To achieve the rank of “biggest fraud” would take some doing from some (not all) politicians who use lies or half-truths knowing that the public won’t check the facts and hoping that the media won’t educate the public about the truth. But, its Thursday in Honolulu and the House just passed H.R. 1215 with a vote of 218 – 210 and the premise of that bill is a lie. No two ways around it. H. R. 1215 is a fraud on the public. I’m irritated, I admit it.
Health care costs are skyrocketing. Total health care spending went from 7.2 percent of GDP in 1970 to 17.8 percent in 2015. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projects that it will rise further to 19.9 percent by 2025. Among the causes of this growth are medical malpractice lawsuits, when patients sue doctors, hospitals, or medical groups.
That statement contains a BIG lie. Let’s focus on the lie: “Among the causes of this growth are medical malpractice lawsuits, when patients sue doctors, hospitals, or medical groups.” Here are the facts, the truth:
- Suing doctors and hospitals when they make avoidable errors and injure patients is only 2.6 percent of American health care spending. Medical liability costs in U.S. pegged at 2.4 percent of annual health care spending
- The real reason for increased health care costs is insurance companies gouging doctors and hospitals for treatment. Americans for Insurance Reform Issues Two New Studies On Medical Malpractice Insurance
- Another reason for increased health care costs is pharmaceutical companies charging outrageous prices for prescription drugs. The Facts About Rising Priscription Drug Costs
Let’s look at the truth. The two new studies cited by Americans for Insurance Reform prove that there is no connection between doctors’ insurance premiums and doctors being sued when they hurt their patients:
Stable Losses/Unstable Rates 2016 finds that medical malpractice premiums and claims per doctor are currently at their lowest level since data were first recorded four decades ago.
Premium Deceit 2016: The Failure of “Tort Reform to Cut Insurance Prices, finds that state limits on patients’ legal rights have no impact whatsoever on insurance rates for doctors.
Some other truths:
- Avoidable medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Medical Errors Are No. 3 Cause Of U.S Deaths, Researchers Say
- 251,000 lives are lost due to avoidable medical errors every year in the U. S., more than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke and Alzheimer’s.
- Defensive medicine does not add to the cost of health care.
On defensive medicine causing a major increase in health care costs there are many articles written by medical groups and insurance companies that state that conclusion but offer no actual study data to prove it. One scientific study based on real doctors and hospitals documenting each and every treatment over a period of time. The Cost of Defensive Medicine on Three Hospital Medicine Services
In conclusion, although a large portion of hospital orders had some defensive component, our study found that few orders were completely defensive, and that physicians’ attitudes about defensive medicine did not correlate with cost. Our findings suggest that only a small portion of medical costs might be reduced by tort reform.
This study was done by scientists and independent doctors. It was noit a propaganda piece. The facts spoke.
The medical profession in our country is generally excellent AND ethical. Doctors don’t cheat. They try to heal their patients. This defensive medicine claim by insurance companies and doctors who are innocently but incorrectly afraid of being sued, wrongly portrays doctors as committing un-ethical acts. It isn’t true. We have a small number of careless, poorly trained doctors. They do a lot of harm. And a lot of harm comes from miscommunication in regard to care of a single patient. When that happens it is only right and fair that the patient be told a mistake was made and compensated if the error leads to permanent injury or death.
What is driving health care costs upward? Big Pharma. Prescription drugs account for 20% of health care costs and in 2014 alone they increased ove 13%. Compared to the measly 2.4% of health care costs associated with compensating those suffer death or life-long injury due to avoidable medical errors, you have to wonder what the lobbyists are feeding to those who support H. R. 1215? And why should families suffering staggering losses and ruined lives due to careless avoidable error at the hospital not be taken care of? Maybe something going on behind the scenes with H. R. 1215 that doesn’t meet the eye?
There you have it. The big lie(s) and the truth(s). Why, you ask, would 218 House members vote for a Bill like H. R. 1215 that is based on a lie and then lie to the public about it? The real reason has nothing to do with health care costs or anything else involving health care. This Bill will hurt the trial lawyers. That is the goal of the 218 supporters. It will attack trial lawyers willingness and ability to take contingent fee cases for those 215,000 families each year who lose a family member due to avoidable medical errors. You see trial lawyers actively support election of candidates who support civil justice in this country. Trial lawyers take huge financial risks to protect the peoples’ branch of government. The courthouse, independent judges and citizen juries, can’t be bought and paid for, and they decide right and wrong against the rich and powerful and the “corporateers” that Harvey Rosenfield talks about often, and insurance companies. Its the only time in our Democracy that people actually determine outcomes directly. Contingent fee cases are a tough way to make a living often requiring an investment by the lawyer of $50,000 or $100,000 or more, and then not being paid anything for 2 or 3 years. And the trial is always a gamble. Tough business. But it is the business of the people and those of us who do it don’t like bullies and don’t like the kind of lies that we see in H. R. 1215.
A resident of Honolulu, Hawaii, Wayne Parson is an Injury Attorney that has dedicate his life to improving the delivery of justice to the people of his community and throughout the United States. He is driven to make sure that the wrongful, careless or negligent behavior that caused his clients' injury or loss does not happen to others.