House to look at Med Mal tomorrow - It still won't do a thing for the people Gardner "represents"
According to the Democratic Whip (Rep. Hoyer), the House will begin consideration of H.R. 5 tomorrow. This bill was recently renamed, but the essence remains the same: national medical malpractice reform. This issue has long been a Republican rallying cry, with Gardner and his buds crying about how it would reduce health costs nationwide. Without saying much more, I thought I should just point you to a past post by Gardner Path explaining that this will do nothing for health care in Colorado, the state Cory Gardner supposedly represents. You see, Colorado has already enacted all but one of the provisions of this "new bill" in the U.S. House, yet health costs in Colorado continue to climb at a rate higher than the national average. Like with almost everything Cory Gardner does, one has to wonder who he is actually representing in Congress. Certainly not the people of Colorado. Shouldn't a Colorado Representative look for health cost solutions that will affect the people of Colorado? -- Updated: Tort Reform did nothing for Colorado’s health costs, yet Gardner and the GOP keep trying - May, 2011Comparing H.R.5 to Existing Colorado LawToday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up H.R. 5, the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act, a bill cosponsored by Mr. Gardner. It is a bill to place federal limits on all medical malpractice cases in the nation, whether in state or in federal courts. Skipping past the federalism issues raised by Congress preempting almost all state law on the issue and skipping past the actual merits of medical malpractice reform, which are dubious at best (Read The Cost Conundrum for some great info), I am primarily concerned with what Cory Gardner actually thinks this will accomplish for Colorado. Whenever he's asked about what he would replace the Affordable Care Act with, Gardner loves to talk about medical malpractice as a solution to lower costs in heath care. Gardner went to law school, didn't he? He was in the state legislature, wasn't he? Shouldn't he know that almost every "reform" he is voting for at the federal level has been in place in Colorado for more than 20 years? One study in 2006 ranked Colorado as 2nd in the nation for its efforts to restrain lawsuits. Has Colorado's more than 20 year history of medical malpractice reform had any impact on the cost of health care in the state? No. Between 1991 and 2004, Colorado's health costs annually grew by 7.7%, a uch faster growth rate than the national average. With almost every tort "reform" included in this new GOP effort in place, Colorado's health costs outpaced the nation's. Can Gardner honestly say this effort has anything to do with helping Coloradan's health costs? I don't think so In fact, Colorado's annual health cost growth was the 12 highest in the nation. It's efforts to rein in medical malpractice lawsuits did absolutely nothing to lower costs or improve care in the state. It hasn't even had an effect on medical malpractice insurance premiums paid by doctors themselves. A study in 2003 of liability losses by Colorado's insurers and insurance premiums found that losses were relatively constant, while premium costs fluctuated almost randomly. There was no correlation to liability payments and premiums. Colorado's history of medical malpractice regulation has had no effect on the people of Colorado and no effect on costs of health care in the state. I thought Cory Gardner represented Colorado. If so, he should be looking for real solutions for the state, not simply pandering to the GOP and the insurance industry that gave him quite the tidy sum to his campaign. H.R.5 basically makes Colorado's existing laws the national standard. The bill will have no mentionable effect on the people of the 4th District. Maybe it will actually increase the growth of national health expenses, if Colorado's experience is any model. The fact though does remain that Cory Gardner is doing nothing to help his constituents. Update May 12: Gardner put out a press release:
"This is a crucial step in replacing the President's healthcare law with common sense reforms that have been proven to work in multiple states such as Colorado, California and Texas," Gardner said.
Apparently Colorado's above-the-national-average health cost growth is a proven track record of success to Cory Gardner. The question remains, if this bill's provisions are already in Colorado law, how could it help his constituents? And Texas? I must recommend again that you read The Cost Conundrum, the story of McAllen, Texas and its being "one of the most expensive health-care markets in the country. Only Miami—which has much higher labor and living costs—spends more per person on health care."
But since then, year after year, McAllen’s health costs have grown faster than any other market in the country, ultimately soaring by more than ten thousand dollars per person. “It’s malpractice,” a family physician who had practiced here for thirty-three years said.“McAllen is legal hell,” the cardiologist agreed. Doctors order unnecessary tests just to protect themselves, he said. Everyone thought the lawyers here were worse than elsewhere. That explanation puzzled me. Several years ago, Texas passed a tough malpractice law that capped pain-and-suffering awards at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Didn’t lawsuits go down? “Practically to zero,” the cardiologist admitted.
But costs continues to climb. This is not a health care cost solution, something proven time and time again around the nation. Mr. Gardner, we need real solutions, not GOP puffery.Sources not linked to above: