From President Obama's speech to Congress on health care reform:
Now, finally, many in this chamber -- particularly on the Republican side of the aisle -- have long insisted that reforming our medical malpractice laws can help bring down the cost of health care. (Applause.) Now -- there you go. There you go. Now, I don't believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I've talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs. (Applause.) So I'm proposing that we move forward on a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine. (Applause.) I know that the Bush administration considered authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test these ideas. I think it's a good idea, and I'm directing my Secretary of Health and Human Services to move forward on this initiative today. (Applause.)
That was, at the time, all theater as well. He doesn't really commit to anything except "moving forward on a range of ideas." Everyone watching, everyone in the room, knew he had no intention of allowing true tort reform, the kind that's been shown to work in, for example, Texas, including caps on non-economic damages. The wording was designed for people to feel like he understood the problem and addressed the issue, but not to commit to actually doing anything about it. Sure enough, this is exactly what we have in the House bill.
The health care bill recently unveiled by Speaker Nancy Pelosi is over 1,900 pages for a reason. It is much easier to dispense goodies to favored interest groups if they are surrounded by a lot of legislative legalese. For example, check out this juicy morsel to the trial lawyers (page 1431-1433 of the bill):
Section 2531, entitled “Medical Liability Alternatives,” establishes an incentive program for states to adopt and implement alternatives to medical liability litigation. [But]…… a state is not eligible for the incentive payments if that state puts a law on the books that limits attorneys’ fees or imposes caps on damages.
Must. Help. Poor. Attorneys.
10/31/09 1350: A good line from Ed Morrissey:
No one should be the least bit surprised that the same Democratic Party that takes in over 80% of political donations from trial lawyers has attempted to kneecap tort-reform pilot programs in ObamaCare ... Maybe they should just call themselves the Ambulance Chasers Party and be done with it.