Malpractice

MALPRACTICE…. Ask any Republican lawmaker what kind of health care reform provisions they can tolerate, and just about 100% of the time, the first two words out of their mouth will be “malpractice reform.”

Here, for example, was Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during the afternoon session at the health care summit yesterday.

“[T]he point is that we don’t have to go very far. There’s two examples right now of medical malpractice reform that is working. One is called California and the other is called Texas. I won’t talk about California because we Arizonians hate California because they’ve stolen our water.

“But the fact is that Texas has established a $750,000 cap for non-economic damages; caps doctors at $250,000; hospitals at $250,000; and any additional institution, $250,000; and patients harm to a finding of medical malpractice are not subject to any limitations on recoveries for economic losses. And I hope you’ll examine it.”

I hope policymakers will examine it, too, because the results of the experiments in California and Texas offer some important lessons.

McCain preferred to ignore California’s experience, not because of water rights, but because the caps haven’t worked the way conservatives would have liked.

He might also want to re-think the results out of Texas, where victims have repeatedly been screwed, and where costs weren’t reduced anyway.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin’s (D-Ill.) remarks on this yesterday were pretty devastating. I hope McCain will examine it.