Ron Paul is in the running in the upcoming presidential election as a Republican Party candidate. This will be his third presidential race, and he’s still holding strong to his free-market malpractice approach; it is a plan, after all, that is synonymous with his name.
The medical industry is plagued by a serious problem: medical malpractice lawsuit awards result in high health care and insurance costs. Contrary to what the media and politicians report, this is due to a combination of negligent doctors and preventable medical mistakes. Because of this, doctors fear being sued. So, they conduct unnecessary, expensive, and time-consuming tests, scans, etc.; they also avoid new techniques and medical treatments that could benefit patients. Also due to high malpractice insurance costs, doctors sometimes find themselves out-of-the-job because they are simply unable to afford the costs; prospective doctors are deterred from attending medical school because they don’t think the work and time are worth such a high stress career. What this leaves Americans with are stressed doctors, high personal medical and health insurance costs, and high taxes to accommodate all of the malpractice suits that take place.
To add to the problem, the federal government wants to place federal caps on medical malpractice lawsuits – more specifically, the federal government is proposing nation-wide jury award caps at $500,000 for punitive damages and $250,000 for non-economic damages, i.e. compensation for "pain and suffering.” The idea is that the implementation of these damage caps will cut down on both the government’s and citizens’ health care costs. According to estimates made by the Congressional Budget Office, these federally mandated caps are expected to save the government up to $54 billion over the next decade.
Aside from this being a blatant violation of states’ rights as outlined in the Constitution, damage caps on malpractice lawsuits has been shown to increase health care costs in states that have implemented them. For instance, Texas legislature implemented caps on noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering, in 2003. According to Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care’s, “Selected Medicare reimbursement measures,” Texas has seen no benefit from the caps implementation. Quite to the contrary, Texans have seen an increase in health care spending. Here’s the chart they drafted:
Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, “Selected Medicare reimbursement measures.”
Jay Pate, a Texas lawyer, states, “Not only has per person Medicare spending in Texas continued to exceed the national average, the data also show that such spending rose at nearly twice the national average (15.1% versus 8.7%) in the four years since the medical liability reform legislation was passed. Furthermore, before such 'cost-saving' legislation went into effect, per person Medicare reimbursement rates in Texas were the tenth highest in the nation. In 2007, reimbursement rates in Texas had risen to the second highest. None of this is resounding evidence that tort reform has been successful in controlling health care costs."
Additionally, family and single health insurance premiums have risen by 51% and 45% respectively since the damage caps’ implementation.
Luckily for Americans, Ron Paul might just have the answer the medical industry has been looking for, and it will benefit both doctors, citizens, and the government. Under his concept, deemed “Negative Outcomes Insurance,” patients can purchase insurance before receiving medical treatment. Like all insurance, if something goes wrong, insurance will compensate them. Ron Paul’s concept is meant to cut the instances of medical malpractice lawsuits. It will benefit citizens in several ways. First, citizens who have suffered injuries due to doctors’ negligence will be compensated without going through the process of a lawsuit. Second, it will cut governmental costs because fewer lawsuits, in theory, will take place. Third, doctors will worry less about being sued for malpractice; this means that doctors won’t engage in unnecessary tests to relieve themselves of liability, and will use newer treatments and techniques. Fourth, because costs endured by the government, medical industry, and doctors paying for malpractice insurance will be markedly lower, citizens will pay less for medical insurance and care.
Ron Paul’s plan is logical and fiscally responsible; and as we know, the federal government is, at the very least, not the latter. More than ever, what America and its economy need is something different; and Ron Paul and his ideas might just be the different that Americans need.