Kia Franklin

So What’s The Real State of the Union?


Last night we heard President Bush's final (!) State of the Union speech. The Drum Major Institute has prepared a response that addresses some of his statements and how they affect the middle class. Go here to read the full report.

Specific to Civil Justice, Bush didn't have a whole lot to say that diverged greatly from his past statements, but what references he made to our civil justice sytem certainly had stunning implications for our rights. In brief review:

1) Bush drew upon one of his favorite fairytales--the "epidemic of junk lawsuits"--you know, the "crisis" that has been proven, time and again, not to exist. Needless to say this was an appeal to insurance industry cronies that have doctors, patients, and the public at large generally misled about the crisis in malpractice. The crisis is that these insurance companies are pilfering from doctors and telling the docs that injured plaintiffs and their lawyers are to blame. For starters, read the Presidential Platform's Medical Malpractice section or go to CJ&D to learn about this issue.

Here's DMI's response:

PRESIDENT BUSH SAYS we should reduce medical malpractice lawsuits. “Congress must… promote health information technology and confront the epidemic of junk medical lawsuits.”

DMI SAYS: Health information technology has the potential to both increase patient safety and reduce medical costs, both important goals for middle-class Americans. But appealing to the myth of rampant “junk lawsuits” will lead to measures that put patient safety in grave danger.. By blocking Americans’ ability to sue medical providers such “reform” would eliminate a critical incentive for maintaining high quality patient care. (Keep reading)

2) Bush also spoke of granting amnesty to his corporate cronies who spied on the American public. Insisting that he's concerned with protecting Americans, he urged for legislation to protect the companies that spied on us. Although he has in the past vowed to veto any version of the bill that doesn't look exactly like he wants it, earlier in his speech he defended the importance of open Congressional debate as a democractic value. So, I guess he means it's a value so long as the result of debate fits his agenda. I'd say I've written about this issue ad nauseam, but what's really nauseating is how this issue is being mischaracterized as one that is centered on the American public's safety and security, when it's really about preserving the Administration's power to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, and to take its friends along for the ride.

Earlier Monday, Sen. Harry Reid had this to say:

The American people deserve to know that when President Bush talks about the foreign intelligence bill tonight, he's doing little more than shooting for cheap political points - and we should reject his efforts... None of us want the current law to expire. Except Cheney and Bush. But if it does expire ... surveillance will not end, even if they stop us from extending the bill. All surveillance orders issued under the law we passed last August, the Protect America Act, are effective for one year, so they will continue until at least August of 2008. Even in a last resort... FISA includes provisions for emergency warrantless surveillance, and it always has... We must pass a bill that gives our intelligence authorities the tools they need, while protecting the privacy of all Americans.

Here's DMI's response

3) Finally, as important as what the President did say, is what he didn't say. For instance, he didn't address the needs of the Ground Zero workers who have attended each of his State of the Union addresses since 9/11/01. Ground Zero volunteer John Feal was quoted on his views about Bush's inattention to the lingering needs of rescue volunteers whose ailing health and skyrocketing medical expenses go unattended to: "You got $3 billion a month to kill people," Feal said. "You got $3 billion a year for health care." Read the full article here.

Browse TortDeform's Ground Zero-related blog posts here.

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 9:06 AM, Jan 29, 2008 in DMI Events/News | In the News
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Hey Kia,
I'm wondering how shifting our view of health care from one of a service provided for people to understanding it as an industry that creates profit changes the way in which we address Bush's belief in junk lawsuits. If we approach healthcare as an industry do we then have additional ways to both understand his position and additional ways to ask questions that point out holes in his understanding of junk lawsuits? Just a question.

Posted by: Matthew Birkhold | January 29, 2008 12:10 PM

Really interesting.

Actually, I think you've gotten to the heart of the disconnect in the debate. Some people are operating off of the understanding that health care is an industry primarily focused on serving the people, and others are operating off of the understanding that it is primarily driven by the profit motive.

Thinking about health care as primarily a profit driven industry, it only makes sense that Bush would resort to the junk lawsuits rhetoric. It is this tort deform rhetoric that pro-business people use whenever they have too many individuals excercising their legal rights.

If we are thinking about health care as a care-driven industry, this allows us to connect w/ Bush on a couple of things. For example, he suggests the need for "better options and better information" to empower patients and doctors. This is progress. The care-driven approach will lead us to emphasize solutions that are care-centered--like improving patient safety, improving information systems, encouraging voluntary disclosure from drs, etc. The bottom line isn't the bottom dollar, it is or at least it should be human beings' health.

It's funny. The right to sue kind of combines the two starting points, profit based and care based--it says, the primary goal is to fix this situation so that people aren't being killed and injured by medical negligence. Then it looks at the solutions discussed above. Then it says, secondarily, if these systems fail, and a person is still victimized by medical negligence, well they're entitled to some form of compensation. And the effect of this compensation, in add'n to helping that person, will be that it creates an added and more persuasive safey-incentive in the health care sector.

But how to get to the heart of the debate--whether we're going to be first and foremost dedicated to the profit-motive or the care-motive--that's the big question I guess.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

Posted by: Kia | January 29, 2008 1:52 PM

Kia: You and your pals support the idea of Commie Care. The result is known for decades. Commie Care does a good job of providing care costing dozens of dollars. One waits long periods for care costing hundreds of dollars. And one never, never, never gets care costing thousands of dollars. See the assassination of Princess Diana by Commie Care. Princess Diana would have survived her accident in the worst slums of the US. She would have helicoptered to a trauma center, and been on the table having her aorta repaired, in 15 minutes. What she got was futzing at the scene for 45 minutes, and an hour's drive to the hospital four miles away, with stops along the way for street resuscitation for her exsanguination. Internal bleeding does not respond to street resuscitation. That is Commie Care. No such American health infrastructure support will ever happen under Commie Care.

Past 40, an organ will fail every five years. Expensive care has a return on investment of around 1000% year over year, guaranteed, with no risk of loss, for middle aged patients. Find me a better investment return, include drug dealing, bank robbery, arbitrage, and any other capitalist profit making investment you can think of. This does not include the value of relief of suffering and preventing the lost of loved ones too early. Those have infinite values to the person.

The returns are nil for expensive care in the moribund aged. Why does it persist? Lawyer intimidation and fear of litigation. That is about a quarter of the budget or more. Get rid of the land pirate, and costs drop about a third immediately, automatically, with no technological advance. Moribund care can stop. Defensive medicine (about 10%) can stop automatically.

Beyond, major discounts, medical error can drop by 90%. Right now, thorough investigations and remedies of all errors are impeded by the fear of hospital killing lawsuits. The non-profit has an affirmative duty to survive under siege from the land pirates. Remedies to error are suicidal. Every preventable medical error is the fault of the land pirate.

Let's assume the faulty studies of error are correct. They are garbage. But let's assume they are correct. About 2% of medical decisions are harmful malpractice. That is a 98% rate of care within standards.

Compare that to the majority of medmal cases' being weak and frivolous. The lawyer has enumerated duties to the adverse third party in the Rules of Conduct, in Evidence, and in Civil Procedure. These are statutory. All litigation privileges are self-dealt immunities granted by lawyers on the bench to their lawyer pals to generate jobs for all three sides. These privileges are unlawful.

Your pals have a failure rate of over 70%, and at every stage of litigation, from filing to appellate holdings. The filing of weak cases is legal malpractice. Only torts can remedy that utter failure. Only after medical defendants will be able to sue plaintiff land pirates for negligence per se.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | January 30, 2008 7:43 AM