I suppose I should be used to by now: A political party making statements that are demonstrably false. And yet it continues, perhaps because those that value the falsehood make political contributions in order to perpetuate it. If you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it.
And so we turn to the Republican National Committee’s political platform and we look up what they have to say about tort “reform.” And what do we find? Rehashed falsehoods disproved by empirical evidence.
Let’s leave aside, for the moment, that the very concept of giving Big Government immunities and protections to those that injure others runs directly contrary to conservative political philosophy. Let’s deal with simple accuracy today, and turn directly to the Republican platform as it applies to tort “reform:”
Frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits have ballooned the cost of healthcare for the average American. Physicians are increasingly practicing defensive medicine because of the looming threat of malpractice liability. Moreover, some medical practitioners are avoiding patients with complex and high-risk medical problems because of the high costs of medical malpractice lawsuits. Rural America is hurt especially hard as obstetricians, surgeons, and other healthcare providers are moving to urban settings or retiring, causing a significant healthcare workforce shortage and subsequently decreasing access to care for all patients. We are committed to aggressively pursuing tort reform legislation to help avoid the practice of defensive medicine, to keep healthcare costs low, and improve healthcare quality.
The platform deals primarily with three issues:
- Frivolous malpractice suits
- “defensive medicine”
- Lack of doctors in rural areas.
The issue is tough to study in the medical malpractice context by merely looking at medical records, since medical practitioners aren’t too keen on documenting their mistakes. Often, there is a simple question of fact for a jury: The patient says they made a complaint (lump in breast, floaters in the eye, etc.) and the doctor said not to worry.
But a study was done that showed most malpractice suits came from very few doctors. The study has been around since George Bush was president, yet it doesn’t seem to stop the perpetuation of the hoax of a malpractice crisis.
Next up, the concept of “defensive medicine.” That was disproved in a recent study in Texas, in which costs went up faster than the national average, despite brutal “reform” that closes the courthouse door to so many.
Which brings us to the last claim, that of a lack of doctors in rural areas. Well, it seems that doctors (and many others) don’t like to live in rural areas and want to live in the big cities and suburbs. But that isn’t because of malpractice cases. This too, was disproved by the Texas 2003 experiment in “reform, as more doctors did not come to Texas on a per capita basis in response.
When Mitt Romney speaks tonight will he repeat the falsehoods? There are just two reasons he might do so:
- The healthcare and insurance businesses are some of the biggest in the nation, and they give tons of money to politicians;
- Bashing lawyers is fun for the general public, because when we set forth the evidence in response to false statements we sound, well, like lawyers.