Maybe I better ply you with Nehi before we go into this too deep? Of all the talking points I laid out you picked one I didn't even put in!! But since you brought up lawyers lets go ahead. I love lawyer jokes. I have a collection of them I was going to post at my website if I ever got around to it. This one is my favorite:
A bunch of geese is a gaggle. A bunch of sheep is a flock. What do you call a bunch of lawyers?
Answer: A sleaze.
Usage: If you try to file a medical malpractice lawsuit the doctor's insurance company is going to have a whole sleaze of lawyers working on the case against you.
On the topic of frivolous lawsuits here are some quick facts:
About 70% of all malpractice lawsuits end in no settlement for the claimant. They do cost the doctor/insurance company about $30k a pop to defend. So to say they have no impact on the cost of healthcare would be misleading. To say they are THE cause of rising costs of premiums and healthcare is GROSSLY misleading (more on this later).
Part of the problem with malpractice lawsuits is (as Brad has pointed out) in almost every case -- including the ones that result in no settlement or dismissal -- the claimant has actual disabilities. The task is to determine if it is outright malpractice or merely an adverse outcome.
Before a consumer attorney is going to take your case and wage it against the insurance companies sleaze of lawyers he has to be pretty damn sure that it is a case with merit because he's going to take it on contingency -- meaning he has to invest his time and money in it -- usually not getting any payback for two to three years.
Before the case can go to trial the Judge is going to determine if the case has merit or not. If it is clearly frivolous he will dismiss it and the ambulance chaser is out his time and money and you're out -- at a minimum depending on what venue -- court costs.
If the case goes to trial a Jury will be impaneled -- probably of 12 depending on venue.
The Jury will then hear the merits of the case -- just like in a capital murder case -- and render a verdict. Perhaps it will be an award -- perhaps the defendant will be found not liable at all.
If the Judge feels an award is too high based on the merits of the case he can reduce it.
If the defendant is still not satisfied he can frivolously appeal.
So, no Sharon it does not come back to frivolous lawsuits.
Medical malpractice premiums charged by insurance companies do not correspond to increases or decreases in payouts, which have been steady for 30 years. Rather, premiums rise and fall in concert with the state of the economy.” Medical Malpractice Insurance: Stable Losses/Unstable Rates, Americans for Insurance Reform (www.insurance-reform.org), under the direction of J. Robert Hunter (Director of Insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, former Federal Insurance Administrator and Texas Insurance Commissioner) October 10, 2002.
“I don’t like to hear insurance-company executives say it’s the tort system – it’s self inflicted.’” – Donald J. Zuk, Chief Executive of Scpie Holdings Inc., a leading malpractice insurer in California, Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2002.
The whole basis for the current debate before the nation is the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) that was passed in California in 1975 that did impose a pain and suffering cap of $250k (which was a lot more money then). The insurance companies would have you believe this (bad) law was the pill that fixed California's medmal premium problem. (Why is it that when Big Tobacco says their products aren't addictive consumer's naturally distrust them -- but when Big Insurance says anything anybody would trust them at all?)
In actuality though -- malpractice premiums rose 175% over the subsequent ten years in California and then miraculously started going down in 1988. This (according to the insurance companies) was because the California Supreme Court finally made a ruling on MICRA upholding it in 1985. Aha! You say? No... they continued going up until 1988 -- what happened that very same year? Ralph Nader put together a grass roots campaign to put prop 103 on the books which passed -- what did it do?
Created an elected, not appointed, insurance commissioner
-Forced insurers to justify their rate increases to the insurance commissioner
-Opened up insurance company books so regulators could determine if they needed rate increases
-Allowed citizens to challenge proposed rate increases
The insurance industry sponsored three alternate propositions that would cancel out Proposition 103. They funded an $80 million campaign to defeat 103. The Proposition 103 people spent less than $3 million in their campaign. The average donation was $10.
The insurance companies threatened to leave the state. They didn't.
Now -- 15 years later -- everyone wants to copy California -- but they're copying the wrong law! (Because Bush is in the Insurance Industry's pockets... but hey -- Truman had Pendergast -- it's the American way -- it's just payback time for George now -- and time for the rest of us Americans to not let them get away with it.)
The following is a letter from a parent of a damaged child under the California Tort system written to the incoming President of the AMA:
January 21, 2003
Board Member, FTCR
President-Elect Donald J. Palmisano, MD
American Medical Association
515 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60610
Via Facsimile & US Mail
On The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer you spoke of a California child who at two years of age was blinded and brain damaged as a result of medical negligence. You argued for a national limit on legal damages for victims, claiming that "$42 million was given to that child" for medical care and rehabilitation. In truth, "that child", our son Steven Olsen, eventually received less than $2 million from the jury for a lifetime of care and other costs. You should immediately issue a correction to be broadcast to the nation and an apology to our son, Steven, and his family.
Your claim inflated Steven's compensation by 2,000% in an attempt to blame victims, and the juries that bring them justice, for runaway malpractice premiums. Here are the facts of the case.
Steven fell on a stick in the woods while playing. The hospital pumped Steven up with steroids and sent him away with a growing brain abscess. We brought him back to the doctor three times, and asked for a CAT scan because we knew Steven was not well. After being denied the CAT scan, Steven returned to the hospital comatose. At trial, medical experts testified that had he received the $800 CAT scan, which would have detected a growing brain mass, he would have his sight and be perfectly healthy today.
After numerous defense delay tactics and frivolous appeals, Steven received $1.975 million, not $42 million, from the jury to pay for his lifetime of care. Steven's legal fees and court costs were $914,000. The jury supplemented this amount with $7.1 million in "non-economic" damages for Steven's avoidable life of darkness and suffering. However, the judge reduced this to $250,000 because of California's cap on non-economic damages, which you recommend for the nation. This amounts to little over $4000 a year for the rest of Steven's life.
Congress may begin debate on a similar cap on damages as early as next month. As the prominent head of a national physician's association, you have an obligation to be honest with doctors who pay premiums, victims whose recovery may be limited, and lawmakers who will be asked to trust your testimony. Steven has been victimized by the medical system, the tilting of the scales of justice in the tort system, and now by you and the organization you represent. We request that your correction and apology be to NewsHour by January 31 in order to set the record straight before Congressional debate begins.
you may not be able to convince them you're pregnant -- but if you took toerag along you could tell them you were with child!!! Heh..
Your trivia question may be a tad broad -- price controls on what??? I distinctly recall Nixon's price freezes and wage freezes -- there have been numerous other regulations put on other industries --
The most recent failed de-regulation you probably wouldn't be aware of is the cable industry -- prices have soared and service has sucked...ever more.
[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (02-27-2003 12:03 AM).]