The Jig is Up on Tort Reform
Think of politicians who asseverate about "limited government" but really want a crushing and stifling government to benefit themselves and their friends. They utter all the shibboleths of big-government-is-bad and, yes, they might manage an exiguous tax cut once in a while, but invariably most of what they ever accomplish is to keep the wheels greased for their corporate friends who will hire them when they leave office. "Tort reform" is a case in point.
The very name suggests that the tort system is broken. But for tort reform, the limited-government types tell us, we wouldn't have nearly so expensive a health care system. What with all the runaway juries and doctors who must practice "defensive medicine," one of my local Congressmen, Tom Price, recently claimed "lawsuit abuse" costs "an astounding $650 billion a year...[or]...26 percent of annual health care dollars." I wish he had said where he got that estimate...the mouth of hell?
Professor Michelle Mello, of the Harvard School of Public Health, just released a statistical study of the costs of medical malpractice in America. She estimates that in 2008, the cost of medical malpractice, including defensive medicine, was 2.4 percent of total healthcare spending, or $55.6 billion dollars. The good Dr. Price is off by a decimal point! In a companion study by Professor J. William Thomas, of the University of Southern Maine, the estimated savings resulting from a 10 percent decline in medical malpractice premiums would be less than 1 percent of total medical care costs in every specialty. Personally, I never saw a dime's reduction in the medical malpractice premiums I paid from Georgia's vaunted tort reform of 2005 until the day I closed my medical practice in May of this year.Continued on the next page