Sunday, November 1, 2009

It Just Keeps Growing

It Just Keeps Growing

The health care reform bill is now 1990 pages. When last I linked to the bill, it was 1502 pages, and that was less than two weeks ago. I pointed out that there were a lot of provisions in it that could have been separated and passed individually--and didn't seem particularly controversial. But putting all of these completely separable provisions into a single bill looks like Congress has something to hide.

Big Government points to what might one of those "something to hide" provisions, section 2531, which provides for incentive payments to states related to what are called "alternative medical liability laws" intended to make "the medical liability system more reliable through prevention of, or prompt and fair resolution of, disputes"--but then defines what those laws include:
CONTENTS OF ALTERNATIVE MEDICAL LIABILITY LAW.—The contents of an alternative liability law are in accordance with this paragraph if—
(A) the litigation alternatives contained in the law consist of certificate of merit, early offer, or both; and
(B) the law does not limit attorneys’ fees or impose caps on damages. (p. 1432)
Look, I suspect that those claiming that medical malpractice awards are a big part of the problem are exaggerating. But this section is obviously yet another chance to reward the trial lawyers, one of the Democratic Party's most important constituencies.

UPDATE: Just in case anyone decides to argue that this is just the Democratic Party's commitment to free markets, and making sure that states don't interfere with the right of contract between plaintiffs and their attorneys: I'll buy that, as long as the rest of the health care system is similarly returned to free markets. Otherwise it is like the "market reform" for electricity that California embarked on about the time that I moved out some years ago, where wholesale electricity was turned over to a pseudo-market based system, while retail customers continued to be stuck with regulated utilities with guaranteed profits--the worst of free market greed with the worst of regulated control.

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