Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Only Real Path to Health Care Reform

Democrats would have you believe that there is something horribly wrong with health care in this country, and that the only real solution is higher taxes and a massively ineffective government bureaucracy taking over the medical system of this nation. Theirs is a socialist agenda - theft via taxation from the bank accounts of hard-working American citizens, redistribution of other people's money, and totalitarian control over the medical profession. They believe it is the responsibility of each citizen to fund the health care of other people's children, and they think they have a right to force you to do this, as you do their education. As in so many other arenas, in their eyes parents should no longer be responsible for their own children, a fascist-socialist state should be. Government paid teachers, administrators, after-school program directors, counselors, and even doctors and nurses, are the ideal proxies for the actual parent, all under the control of a leftist state - a state appropriating untold amounts of citizens' incomes to pay for its expanded power. In the view of the left, individual citizens cannot be trusted to make their own decisions, and thus the state should control choice, including how each person's income is spent (and on whom).

Democrats like uber-idiot Harry Reid would have you believe that anyone that dares questions, or in George W. Bush's case vetoes, seriously flawed socialist legislation like an unnecessary expansion of SCHIP is "heartless." Heartless we are seen for expecting individuals to take responsibility for themselves and their own children. Heartless for favoring liberty. Heartless for expecting legislation which is fair and effective. But Reid and his ilk are truly the heartless, for they advocate federal thievery, they wish to diminish personal liberty, and they support an uncaring government which would steal the money of its citizens - money which individuals could use on their own health care in a free market as they see fit. How can Reid call anyone "heartless" for expecting the government not to be wasteful, or for expecting it not to fund the undeserving?

As always, rather than have any sort of rational discussion on "reform," the liberals in this country turn to their favorite method of debate: name-calling. Bush and anyone who agrees with his rare act of fiscal conservatism is a big meanie-weanie that hates little kiddies and wants them all to get sick and die. There was never a discussion of whether or not an expansion of SCHIP was good or improved policy, and no exploration of the real causes of the high cost for medical care. It is far easier to paint opponents to their plan - not opponents of treating sick children, but opponents of one particular plan - as baby-slaying ogres. But for some reason they ignore the fact that perhaps empowering parents and doctors, rather than tying their hands with taxes and governmental red-tape, might be less cruel than their bloated "tax and spend more" plan of action. Bush did not outlaw health care for children, he merely vetoed a plan to make some of us pay for someone else's.

So, what then, is the solution the Democrats in Congress have missed? The single most useful, albeit complex, thing the government could do to improve the affordability and quality of health care in the United States would not be more governmental interference in or control of the health care system, it would be to instead improve the "state" itself, on the federal and state levels. In other words, here is my two word solution to the health care crisis in this country:

Tort Reform

Or, to put it another way:

Massive Motherfucking Tort Reform

Before you start wondering if I've accidentally combined two different blog entries, let me explain. The cost of civil litigation in America is astronomical, both directly to those caught in lawsuits and indirectly to the nation overall. And, even worse, there is absolutely no attempt to ensure that the outcome of any particular case is in any way fair or reasonable, leading to a colossal amount of unchecked abuse. The government, through its ineffective legislation allowing civil litigation exploitation, and through the seemingly out-of-touch-with-reality judicial branch, has, through its own poor law-making choices and inaction, been a major cause FOR the health care crisis. Of course, the corrupt, unethical lawyers and litigants that seek to profit unfairly from the broken system have been a major contributor to the crisis as well. But, the government itself - its laws and its representatives - has allowed this incredibly out-of-control crookedness to occur. In fact, it has even encouraged it by passing laws which make it easier to victimize businesses and individuals and by appointing worthless judges too squeamish or dishonest to put a foot down and block the rampant injustice within our system of "justice."

Not surprisingly, the deep pockets of well-paid doctors and health care providers have been a particularly easy target for the legal parasites. And, to oversimplify a bit, since those in need of health care can be, well, really "sick" (obviously) when they go to a doctor, failure to cure or diagnose, failure to be impossibly perfect and superhuman, will result in "sick" or dead patients. Thus, there is often a major envisioned "harm" to claim. Whether or not the responsibility should rationally fall in the hands of a doctor or nature itself, the medical professional will be blamed.

Sharks go for blood, and there are a lot of wounded, floating sources of meat out there. Outrageous lawsuits against medical professionals directly drive up medical and insurance costs. And this of course applies to most other businesses as well, and even agencies of our own government which we fund through tax revenues - all targets of civil litigators. It is not just medical costs which are effected. Civil litigation inflates the price of just about everything. But why on Earth have we allowed -heck, placed - sharks into our swimming pool, to feed on us while we do the breast stroke? We have let our legislators, many who have been greased by trial lawyer lobbies, make laws that have left reason, freedom and common sense at the door.

Sweeping reforms are necessary. We must make it safe to swim in the pool again.

Unfortunately, because of the way the legal system, the way our government, has evolved, it has become more cost effective to settle lawsuits rather than to go through a reasoned process of determining actual liability. It is now more costly to defend oneself from bogus or malicious claims than to just give in to legalized extortion. Rational assessment of the facts through a trial has become far too expensive, but big out-of-court settlement victories merely encourage other unscrupulous individuals to attempt similar suits. The system must be restructured so that it is not cost prohibitive to go to trial and show that no wrong-doing occurred. Or, at the very least, legislation must be revised so that the burden of proof falls back upon the claimant and it is not so easy to "win" a big settlement with so very little justification or real proof.

More must be done to prevent and dismiss frivolous lawsuits - those bringing them to the courts must be punished, claimants and lawyers alike, and should be held responsible for all the unnecessary costs of the fraudulent lawsuit, both to whomever is being sued and to the taxpayer for court expenses. The judicial system must evaluate claims on some deeper level than it currently does - simply hiring a lawyer should not be enough for a suit to go forward.

Our government has legislated into existence insanely unjust burdens of liability. Individuals are no longer personally responsible for their own well-being or common sense - instead this responsibility falls on the shoulders of other individuals and businesses. In today's legal world, if you're too stupid to realize that hot coffee is hot, and if you cannot personally prevent yourself from spilling your order on yourself, then the person making the coffee, not you, is obviously responsible because they didn't adequately warn you that (a) the hot coffee is hot, and (b) that you're a fucking moron. Businesses are also now responsible for catering to other people's disabilities (oh, sorry, differently special ABILITIES, like NOT being able to walk) and must spend inconceivable amounts of money on making businesses they own accessible and even comfortable for people that they should logically in no way be responsible for. Just as the liberals see the community (all of us) as responsible for other people's children, the liberally-corrupted government sees all of us as responsible for other people's actions AND for acts of nature. For example, according to sexual harassment decisions of the past, employers can even be held liable for the actions of third parties their employees come across. What the holy fuck? Of course, these inane, impossible-to-fulfill burdens of "liability" leave plenty of opportunities open for the legal snakes to commit ample amounts of civil litigation abuse.

Liability must be legally redefined. The doors must be shut on the serpent lawyers and their cold-blooded clients. Personal responsibility must be emphasized in reformed legislation. No one should be punished or financially burdened for other people's actions, failings and decisions. Nor for the results of nature. For example, it should not be the burden of businesses or government agencies or other people to provide "access," in other words, spend THEIR funds, on accommodating the disabled. Why should they provide funds for expensive software, translators, elevators, and such? If they WANT the business, sure, they have every right to make their institutions more disabled friendly. But the burden of responsibility should really fall not on taxpayers or businesses who are in no way responsible for these people's disabilities - it should fall on the disabled themselves. People must be responsible for themselves. Compliance with ADA-type legislation has become an incredible financial hardship upon businesses and taxpayers. But this is just one example of how we've allowed near-fascist leftist control over individuals and privately owned companies. The "workplace" and the realm of financial interaction (be it buying something, or paying for a medical service, or whatever) has become a totalitarian state. Doctors are being held liable for not being to heal the healable, or not knowing the unknowable, or not guessing correctly. Perfection is expected in impossibly imperfect situations.

This is not to say that civil litigation is always unnecessary or unjustified. Malpractice and other forms of intentional abuse or unintentional neglect do occur, and people should be held accountable for their actions. But we need to end the idea that all claims of negligence or abuse hold equal weight. We need to RATIONALLY EVALUATE; that was how the system was intended to work.

Another extremely important path to reform would be to limit financial awards in cases where people are reasonably found to be liable for some injustice or harm. Outrageously high awards are allowed by law and are far too commonplace. Given how easy it is to "win," it's no surprise to see more and more folks jumping on the cash-cow bandwagon. The health care system, and just about everyone else, is being crushed by unreasonable, excessive awards. And these costs are obviously passed along to the consumer. And yet somehow the industry itself is blamed for growing costs when they have no other choice but to raise prices to keep up with growing insurance rates and big civil litigation payouts.

On a side note, it is odd how "assumption of innocence" has become utterly ignored in civil cases, yet on the criminal side, the idea of "reasonable doubt" is beyond the grasp of too many moronic, modern juries. No substantial proof is needed in a civil case to prove "guilt" and then "fine" millions. But juries ignore facts and hard evidence in criminal cases far too often, finding murderers and thieves not guilty for the silliest of reasons.

Some might argue that lawyers are simply businessmen, hired for a service. This is certainly true - assuming they do not work for the state. They're taking advantage of business opportunities in an environment many of them had no hand in creating. But the law itself could never be considered a private, free enterprise realm. Legislation itself is the will of our state, or theoretically the will of the majority imposed by its representatives. The law, unlike say the acts of healing or teaching, is by definition an aspect of the government. Tort reform would be a form of self-improvement for the state. In fact, it is the government's responsibility to ensure laws are followable without the need of lawyer interpretation, and that defending oneself and deriving a rational conclusion about a situation does not represent a financial hardship. The legal system should be there to protect us when necessary, and not be a vampire feeding off our population.

Rather than allow liberalism to attempt to consume another aspect of the free market, like health care services, the government would be better off fixing itself. Doing so will improve the environment of the marketplace and of personal interaction. If doctors no longer fear unjustified and unreasonable civil suits, and insurance companies no longer need pay disproportionate settlements, the health care market will eventually adjust, as would numerous other markets. Society and human interaction overall would be improved, and personal liberty would again be more important than state nanny-ism.

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