Health Care, Trial Lawyers: Mentioned in Opinion Pages, At Least

The Washington Post today publishes an op-ed by Philip K. Howard, chairman of the Common Good legal reform group and a partner with the law firm Covington & Burling, “Health Reform’s Taboo Topic.”

Not taboo at Shopfloor.org, where we’ve been writing (crankily) about the influence of the powerful special interest, the trial lawyers, and their influential lobbyists, preventing consideration of liability limits as an element in any health-care reform. Howard explains the cost of that omission:

[Congressional] leadership has slammed the door on solutions to the one driver of waste that is relatively easy to fix: the erratic, expensive and time-consuming jury-by-jury malpractice system. Pilot projects could test whether this system should be replaced with expert health courts, but leaders who say they want to cut costs will not even consider them.

What are they scared of? The answer is inescapable — such expert courts might succeed and undercut the special interest of an influential lobby, the trial lawyers. An expeditious and reliable new system would compensate patients more quickly and at a fraction of the overhead of the current medical justice system, which spends nearly 60 cents of every dollar on lawyers’ fees and administrative costs.

Even more compelling, expert health courts would eliminate the need for “defensive medicine,” thereby helping to save enough money for America to afford universal health coverage.

And here’s yet another Washington Post story on the influence of lobbying on the health care debate, “Industry Is Generous To Influential Bloc.”

And yet again, no mention of the American Association for Justice or campaign contributions from the plaintiffs’ bar.

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