Saturday, March 12, 2005

How Medical Boards Destroy Competition

Excellent article from the AIA this week:

"Physician pedophiles, physician sexual predators, physician addicts and drug abusers, psychotic and psychopathic doctors, as well as doctors who flagrantly endanger their patients with their medical treatments, are called before the medical board. If there has not been much media attention and the situation can be handled quietly by the board, the doctor may only have his license suspended. He may be placed in rehabilitation. Most, in time will get their license back and quietly return to practice. The medical board, like any good fraternal organization, will protect its own. The Catholic Church protects its priests. The medical boards protect their doctors.

There is one category of physician transgressor in particular the board will treat more harshly than any other. The major but unspoken mission of the state medical boards is to protect MDs from market competition.

The true purpose of this medical monopoly, like all monopolies, is to control the market. And it does so, as many would-be healthcare reformers have learned. Thus the state medical boards' greatest wrath is reserved for those doctors that dare to try innovations that may affect the medical marketplace. This fascist monopoly considers the healthcare marketplace its private domain. The physician dare not tamper with healthcare delivery. Innovations that may lower fees or streamline delivery of services cannot be tolerated by a system whose fundamental purpose is to uphold and increase its members' incomes and its political power.Medical Boards and the Destruction of CompetitionSoon after the medical monopoly was formed it began to push its agenda of destroying all competition. A well organized and funded nationwide purge of all non-MDs was undertaken. Over the course of the first half of the twentieth century this medical monopoly managed to shut down over forty medical schools. Their idea was to keep the number of doctors low in order to keep fees up. After WW II the medical monopoly started rigidly controlling how many of each medical specialty it would allow to be trained. So ophthalmologists, orthopedists, dermatologists, obstetricians, and others began to be in short supply. And of course when supplies are low, fees are high."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Bush: Kill the Messenger - Attack victims Lawyers

Last month in Illinois, Mr. Bush called for strict limits on medical malpractice suits, including a cap of $250,000 on what victims and their families could recover for non-economic damages. Non economic damages include physical and emotional pain and suffering. Also attcked would be Lawyers fees. Although only about 20% of Med Mal cases succeed at trial and Attorneys have to spend Tens of thousands even hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing them and advancing costs on behalf of the victims family for them, Bush would cap attorneys fees as well as victims awards so that any payment over $600,000 would limit the attorneys fee to 15%.

Lets call it what it really is Mr. Bush: a limit on citizens access to the civil justice system for crippled victims of incompetant doctors. Notice he does not propose a cap or limit to how much the suspended doctor can pay HIS/HER attorney! Nor does he propose sanctions against repeat offending doctors. He just attacks the victims access to Justice: Lawyers. Medical Malpractice cases have always been David vs. Goliath situations, now David is losing his sling: What lawyer would want to work 2 years on a case he has a 20% chance of winning, spend $100,00 in upfront costs he may never recoup, and be limited to a 15% fee on any payment over $600K?

Who is hurt here? Children and elder citizens, the most in need of protection. Why? Because with no lost earnings, the recovery is limited to "pain and suffering" and a 'hard' cap by Bush of $250,000. To illustrate why an attorney can't economically take one of those cases: An attorney might recover a fee of $65,000 after spending more than that out of pocket.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Limit substandard care, not innocent victims damages

In Massachusetts in the last 10 years, "one-fourth of 1 percent of all the doctors — 98 of the 37,369 doctors — accounted for more than 13 percent of all the malpractice payments, $134 million of the $1 billion in total payments," according to Nancy Achin Audesse, executive director of the board that oversees medical professionals there.

It makes sense that regulating doctors rather than lawyers is the remedy for the medical malpractice crisis. Limiting substandard medicine benefits everyone, while placing ceilings on lawsuit damages would potentially deny justice to the families of patients who have been permanently injured by negligent or incompetent medical professionals.


Ted Rall asks this question and answers it with facts to back up his argument that "The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office finds that the costs associated with malpractice--buying insurance and paying out damage awards--amounts to less than two percent of America's skyrocketing healthcare expenses. "Even a reduction of 25 percent to 30 percent in malpractice costs would lower healthcare costs by only about 0.4 percent to 0.5 percent, and the likely effect on health insurance premiums would be comparably small," the CBO determined."

"Of course, there's an easy way for a doctor to avoid malpractice suits: do a good job. Do no harm and you probably won't get sued. And the courts are good at throwing out frivolous lawsuits before they become expensive.
Contrary to corporate belief, patients don't undergo surgery in hope of striking it rich as the result of some medical mishap. And victims rarely sue. Those who do are desperate for justice and money to cover the additional medical care necessitated by their doctor's incompetence."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Bush stumps against victims rights

According to the American Progress Action Fund , President Bush yesterday pushed his plan to restrict justice for injured plaintiffs. The president claimed on behalf of the insurance industry "the prospect of big jury awards in medical malpractice cases was causing insurance rates to soar and doctors to abandon their practices." If you scrape away the overheated rhetoric and look at the reality, however, a very different picture emerges. His proposal would have no real effect on the cost of health care. The caps would " disproportionately affect " children and seniors who live on fixed incomes. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it also would " undermine incentives for safety" while at the same time making it "harder for some patients with legitimate but difficult claims to find legal representation."

Today's high premiums are a result of insurance industry pricing practices which gouge doctors. Consider: While malpractice payouts actually went down by 8.2 percent between 2001 and 2002, there was no corresponding decrease in doctors' premiums ; the insurance industry simply pocketed the difference. The Des Moines Register points out, "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."

A study by Weiss Ratings, Inc., showed that in 19 states with malpractice caps, physicians suffered a 48.2 percent jump in their premiums. Meanwhile, in 32 states without caps, premiums rose by only 35.9 percent. In other words, there is no connection between caps and premium rates. That finding was echoed by the Congressional Budget Office, which found there is " no statistically significant difference in per capita health care spending between states with and without limits on malpractice torts."

The ironic point is that in oreder to be "capped", you must first prove that your damages are over the cap!!!! The cap just redistributes the burden so that the victim bears the "cost" of the doctors malpractice. I wonder if Bush would propose a cap in the following case: his stockbroker gave him negligent advise that he relied on and lost $500,000. Should his damages be capped at $250 too?

Monday, January 03, 2005

Some Doctors Stop treating Lawyers Kin

A South Carolina surgeon dropped a patient when he found out her husband was a lawyer. Nationwide, some doctors are using 'gorilla' tactics to punish lawyers, who they blame for rising insurance costs, instead of blaming the doctors who are negligent or the insurance companies who are gouging dosctors. The Goverment Congessional Budget Office has already reported a drop in malpractice claims since 2001 which coincides with the collapse of the stock market. The rise in rates of up to 30% can be directly related to insurance companie stock market declines, not higher plaintiffs verdicts. Click here for more Jury statistics. The average award for all types of successful plaintiffs in state court has fallen from $65,000 in 1992 to $37,000 in 2001.