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August 22, 2009
Palin: 'No Health Care reform without legal reform'
Fresh from spurring a discussion of end of life issues with her mention of death panels under Obamacare in Facebook, former Governor Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) is at it again:
No Health Care Reform Without Legal Reform
[W]e cannot have health care reform without tort reform. The two are intertwined. For example, one supposed justification for socialized medicine is the high cost of health care. As Dr. Scott Gottlieb recently noted, "If Mr. Obama is serious about lowering costs, he'll need to reform the economic structures in medicine-especially programs like Medicare."  Two examples of these "economic structures" are high malpractice insurance premiums foisted on physicians (and ultimately passed on to consumers as "high health care costs") and the billions wasted on defensive medicine.
Quoting Dr. Stuart Weinstein of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons she praises him as he
details the costs that our out-of-control tort system are causing the health care industry and notes research that "found that liability reforms could reduce defensive medicine practices, leading to a 5 percent to 9 percent reduction in medical expenditures without any effect on mortality or medical complications."
(Got that former tort lawyer, senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards; known for channeling the words of a fetus unfortunately born with cerebral palsy that helped him win $6.5 million for his client--of which he kept a third.)
She then asks some questions about Obamacare.
Why no legal reform? Why continue to encourage defensive medicine that wastes billions of dollars and does nothing for the patients? Do you want health care reform to benefit trial attorneys or patients?
Aha! Did that last question--and its answer--strike home?
That can be solved, she proves, by citing her non community organizer experience from her state and Texas.
Many states, including my own state of Alaska, have enacted caps on lawsuit awards against health care providers. Texas enacted caps and found that one county's medical malpractice claims dropped 41 percent, and another study found a "55 percent decline" after reform measures were passed.  That's one step in health care reform. Limiting lawyer contingency fees, as is done under the Federal Tort Claims Act, is another step. The State of Alaska pioneered the "loser pays" rule in the United States, which deters frivolous civil law suits by making the loser partially pay the winner's legal bills. Preventing quack doctors from giving "expert" testimony in court against real doctors is another reform.Texas Gov. Rick Perry noted that, after his state enacted tort reform measures, the number of doctors applying to practice medicine in Texas "skyrocketed by 57 percent" and that the tort reforms "brought critical specialties to underserved areas." These are real reforms that actually improve access to health care. 
Stay tuned for further Facebook and Twitter insights.
hat tip: Mark Tapscott