Howard Dean, Truth Teller, But the Truth is No Excuse

The Washington Times does a nice job today editorially wrapping up the importance of Dr. Howard Dean’s recent comments about medical tort reform, “Health care run by trial lawyers.” The former governor of Vermont and former Democratic national chairman was the guest of Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) at a town hall meeting in Reston Tuesday.

The Times, which must have been at the meeting, offers the full quote from Dean explaining why health care legislation did not include any tort reform.

Mr. Dean’s answer was candid: “When you go to pass an enormous bill like that, the more stuff you put in it, the more enemies you make. The reason that tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everybody else they were taking on, and that is the plain and simple truth…. This bill has enough enemies. The more groups you take on, the more enemies you make.”

When Mr. Moran retook the microphone, he praised the constituent for “a very good question” and added, “that’s your answer … a good answer.”

A good answer in terms of explanation, but not justification, the Times observes.

On substance, the answer was terrible. Neither Mr. Moran nor Mr. Dean could defend the lack of tort reform in the bill because there is no good, substantive reason for refusing to rein in the wealthy plaintiffs’ bar. There is no good, substantive reason for refusing to protect doctors from ridiculous jackpot justice while the rest of us pay through the nose for the cost of additional malpractice insurance.

The bad, non-substantive reasons is that trial lawyers give lots of campaign contributions to the legislators writing the bill.

See also Mark Tapscott, Washington Examiner, “Dean says Obamacare authors don’t want to challenge trial lawyers.”

UPDATE (11:08 a.m.): Here’s the video via the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform.

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