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Does Obama Want A Public Plan for Health Care Reform? Or an Insurance Plan? At a Town Hall Event, He Says That Malpractice Caps Are Bad.

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President Obama’s town hall meeting on healthcare reform generated extensive media coverage. USA Today (7/2, Page) reports that the event "lacked the energetic free-for-all quality of the town hall sessions Obama held during the campaign. The questions posed from social media networks were selected by White House staffers, and the three people he called on from the audience all were affiliated with advocacy groups that support Obama."

The Politico (7/1, Brown) reported, "The White House chose a YouTube video from Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), a physician and a critic of the president’s plan who said limits on medical malpractice awards would bring down health care costs – a position the president doesn’t hold. Strangely, however, Burgess didn’t identify himself as a sitting member of Congress."

The AP (7/1) reported, "President Barack Obama is standing by his opposition to caps on jury awards to people who successfully sue for medical malpractice. But Obama also told a town hall meeting on health policy that he is sensitive to the complaints of doctors and other health care professionals that the threat of lawsuits is harming the profession and driving up costs. The president said Wednesday that the specter of lawsuits has forced many in the medical community to practice ‘defensive medicine,’ saying doctors often order up excessive tests just to cover themselves."

Of course the facts dispute the connection between health care costs and lawsuits against negligent doctors who injure patients.

Tort Reform Myth: The Legal System Causes High Malpractice Insurance Premiums

The truth is that what needs reforming is the insurance industry and HMO’s. The public wants insurance companies out of their doctors offices. As long as the greedy tentacles of America’s lowest esteemed industry _ Insurance _ are in the health care system, the patients (who are also voters) and their doctors (who are also voters) are going to get screwed. My only question is why in the world President Obama who campaigned against insurance company abuses, is now compromising to satisfy them? And why is Congress wavering on a public plan?

Business as usual is the reason. They all think that we voted and then went brain dead. They think we aren’t smart enough to figure it out. They think that we will buy whatever false advertising they put out about health care. They underestimate us. Will you add your voice to this mess?

The Washington Post (7/2, Shear, Vargas), the Los Angeles Times (7/2, Levey), the New York Times (7/2, A12, Zeleny) and the Washington Times (7/2, Ward) also cover the story.

McCain calls for caps. The Arizona Republic (7/2, Alltucker, Kelly) reports, "As President Barack Obama pressed his case for an overhaul of the nation’s health-care system, Sen. John McCain on Wednesday urged caution and warned that the plan would lead to a single-payer health-care system with rationed and lower-quality care." McCain "called for curbs to medical-malpractice awards, citing Texas and California as examples where such reforms helped contain costs. He estimated that 10 percent to 20 percent of medical bills are padded due to extra tests ordered by doctors practicing ‘defensive medicine’ because they fear being sued for malpractice."

What are these people talking about? They write these articles without ever opening up a book or investigating the facts. Take a look at what Public Citizen says:

The Great Medical Malpractice Hoax: NPDB Data Continue to Show Medical Liability System Produces Rational Outcomes

The Washington Times is nothing more than a political action committee for the insurance industry. They don’t care about the fact that there is a huge crisis of doctors causing serious injury and death to their patients (I must always note this is only a "few" doctors and that most doctors are not hurting their patients). They just want to protect the bank accounts of the insurance executives like those at AIG who partied with $900 hotel rooms on bailout money. Here is what the Washington Times says:

Obama must fix liability system. The Washington Times (7/1) editorialized, "President Obama can’t fix health care without taking on trial lawyers." Obama "won’t address one major cause of the high costs of medical care: There are too many lawsuits, and they are too lucrative." If Obama "is serious about making health care less expensive, he will have to fix the liability system. That means taking on his own kind – the lawyers. That’s not a very likely remedy."

If you wonder why newspapers are failing look no farther than these quotes. The newspaper industry used to be part of a profession called "journalism"> We laughed at the Soviet Union where Pravda was a political arm of the communist party. Well we now have that system in our conventional media. Fox is the arm of the neo-conservatives, Karl Rove and Grover Norquist and puts out political dogma just like Pravda. Newspapers have become more and more the play things of their elite owners. The media in this country sold out when 9-11 happened. There is no coming back.

Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga changed the way we get information in the aftermath of the tragedy of the Twin Towers. The Daily Kos was born. Its called the Groundswell and it is about people and it is about communication and it is about accountability.