Confined Space
News and Commentary on Workplace Health & Safety, Labor and Politics

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

More Administration Lies About Medical Malpractice "Reform"

A story in the New York Times exposes Bush's lies about medical malpractice "reform," one part of the administration's drive to weaken people's ability to sue companies (or physicians) for negligence and products (such as asbestos) that kill; or as Bush says, "costly and frivolous lawsuits."

The myth, according to the President and the business lobbyists is that the high costs of malpractice insurance "don't start in an examining room or an operating room," the president declared. "They start in a courtroom."

The truth, according to the Times is that there has not been a rise in medical malpractice awards causing malpractice insurance rates to skyrocket. Rising insurance rates are a product of poor investments by the insurance companies that they are trying to recoup by raising their rates.
Data compiled by both the federal government and by insurance organizations show costs for the insurance companies climbing steadily over the last decade at an average annual rate of about 3 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Over most of that period, premiums for doctors rose modestly and sometimes even dropped as the insurance companies battled for market share in a scramble to collect more money to invest in strong bond and stock markets. But when the markets turned sour and the reserves of insurers shriveled, companies began to double and triple the costs for doctors.


The recent jump in premiums shows little correlation to the rise in claims. According to the National Practitioner Data Bank of the Health and Human Services Department, the total paid out by insurance companies for claims against doctors and other medical professionals rose 3.1 percent annually, on average, between 1993 and 2003 and then declined last year.
So what works and what doesn't? In California, they tried limiting awards -- and controlling premium increases:
Many insurers regard the $250,000 limit in California as a model for Mr. Bush. They see it as largely responsible for California's shift from being one of the most expensive places for medical malpractice insurance to one of the least expensive. Consumer advocates, however, say the main reason costs for doctors have fallen in California has been a 1988 law that prohibits insurers from raising rates more than 15 percent a year without a public hearing.

And some researchers are skeptical that caps ultimately reduce costs for doctors. Mr. Weiss of Weiss Ratings and researchers at Dartmouth College, who separately studied data on premiums and payouts for medical mistakes in the 1990's and early 2000's, said they were unable to find a meaningful link between claims payments by insurers and the prices they charged doctors.

"We didn't see it," said Amitabh Chandra, an assistant professor of economics at Dartmouth. "Surprisingly, there appears to be a fairly weak relationship."

Related Articles

Run! The Sky Is Falling: Republican Tort "Reform" , January 11, 2005
Malpractice Misconduct, June 22, 2004
Medical Malpractice Solution: Kill the Lawyers (and their families), June 10, 2004
Texas Passes 'Polluters and Predators Protection Act', September 17, 2003



Go To My Main Page

Google Groups Subscribe to Confined Space
Browse Archives at

Search WWW Search Confined Space


DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this Blog are my own and do not, in any way, shape or form, reflect or represent the views or policies of my employer. Links to or from other websites of individuals or organizations do not constitute an endorsement of these views.
Looking for Confined Space Safety Information?
Click Here

Search Web Search Confined Space

Greatest Hits

BP Texas City Explosion Stories

2006 Mine Disaster Stories

Popcorn Lung Stories

Speech on Receiving the APHA Lorin Kerr Award
by Jordan Barab, November 9, 2004

Acts of God, Acts of Man," by Jordan Barab, Working USA

Lies, Partisanship Caused Ergo Standard to Crumble, by Jordan Barab, Safety + Health, February 2002

A Week of Death, by Jordan Barab, Hazards, February 5, 2003


March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007

Recent Posts


Koufax Award

For Best Single Issue Blog of 2003 and 2004