Monday, June 11, 2007

Kline Tells Us: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

While U.S. Rep. John Kline (R-MN) is busy trying to pass a law that limits what injured patients can collect to under $250,000, he has taken more $250,000 from Pharmaceuticals, Health Products and Insurance companies while in office!

Once more U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., is doing the bidding of big corporations. Much like the ‘Blue Skies Initiative’ , the 'Help, Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare Act', (HEALTH) is also a misnomer. Contrary to what Kline claims, the Act doesn't help, make healthcare lower-cost, more accessible, efficient or stop booming insurance profits or it’s price gouging of doctors.

Medical malpractice laws differ from state to state, they all fall into the category of tort law. A tort is “a wrongful act…that results in injury to another per­son, property, reputation, or the like, and for which the injured party is entitled to compensation. What Kline is proposing with the HEALTH Act is to eliminate your right of making the medical community accountable for it actions.

Several states have caps on medical awards (including Texas), States with jury award caps haven’t seen lower premiums and instead like most other states their rates have risen. There's simply no correlation between lawsuits and insurance rates. Rather, insurance rates are tied to the climate of the stock and bond market, where insurance companies invest much of their money.

Medical mistakes not medical lawsuits are the key problem. Limiting awards does not make healthcare ‘more efficient, accessible, low-cost, or timely’ as Kline would have you believe. The problem with medical malpractice is that it occurs far too often. It is the eighth leading cause of death in America, killing more people than AIDS, breast cancer, or automobile crashes. Instead of address this issue, Kline would have you punish the victims by capping awards.

Medical malpractice insurance accounts for less than 2 percent of health care spending. And this percentage has been flat since the late 1990’s and may be falling since medical malpractice costs are increasing at half the rate of overall health care costs, 52 percent versus 113 percent since 1987. Based on the small share of the total healthcare budget, even if all medical malpractice cases were eliminated, the cost “savings” would only be about one-half of one percent of every dollar spent on health care

Most malpractice is caused by a small number of doctors who are never sanctioned. Nothing is being done to crack down on the 5 percent of doctors (1 out of 20) responsible for 54 percent of malpractice payouts. Very few doctors are disciplined with only 13 percent of doctors with five or more medical malpractice payouts having been disciplined. Add to this that only 1 of 8 patients who suffered injury due to medical negligence ever file claims indicates a system where the payout isn’t the problem.

The average indemnity paid for the least severe category of injury was $49,947. That increased to $454,454 for grave injuries that include quadriplegia, severe brain damage, lifelong care or fatal prognosis In other words Jury awards are reasonable and proportional to the severity of the injury.

Why doesn't Kline voluntarily limited the amount of money he's accepted from this industry instead of trying to put limits on payouts for injuries suffered by neglect?


Matt said...

Nice try, but your figures on the medical malpractice costs are, as one might have guessed, biased and skewed to support your agenda.

In March 2006 Towers Perrin released its U.S. Tort Costs: 2005 Update. The study found that over the 29 years since 1975, when medical malpractice insurance data were first separated out from other types of liability, medical malpractice cost increases have outpaced other tort areas, rising at an average of 11.7 percent a year, compared with 9.0 percent for all other tort costs. In 2004 medical malpractice costs totaled over $28.7 billion, up from about $26.5 billion the previous year.

A February 2006 study, prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers for America’s Health Insurance Plans, examined the factors contributing to rising health care costs and analyzed where the health care dollar goes. It found that medical liability costs and defensive medicine account for 10 percent of medical care costs. Defensive medicine is when doctors order more tests, prescribe more medication and make more referrals than they believe are necessary to protect themselves from being accused of negligence. The study, “The Factors Fueling Rising Healthcare Costs 2006,” also estimates that health insurance premiums rose 8.8 percent between 2004 and 2005.

Truth & Justice said...

I'm sorry I missed the part where you decried Kline accepting over $250,000 even though he's not injuried in a tort case....

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

A mistake made by a medical professional is probably more costly then any other mistake! However claiming malpractice over tiny errors which don’t have massive consequence would be a waste of everyone’s time, the courts, doctors and lawyers. However when there is a case of major medical negligence then the victim and their family deserve an explanation and if necessary compensation!