Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Reform

1 Nov

Healthcare reform and universal healthcare coverage for all Americans:
Is it  “slip, slidin’ away? Where is the Medical Malpractice lawsuit reform? Who will pay for it?

The Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act (ACA) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in March of 2010. All Americans, physicians and patients alike, remember the political turmoil and popular upheaval over its passage. Media attention to its implementation and ongoing legal challenges has taken a backseat to other important issues such as Osama bin Laden, deficit spending, uprising in the Middle East, the 2012 presidential election, earthquake in Japan, and tornadoes in Midwest. Paul Simon’s refrain, “slip slidin away, the nearer your destination, the more your slip slidin away”, seems an appropriate description for for universal health care coverage in the United States today. Most would  agree that the health of America is dependent on the health of its individual citizens, so it seems that physicians and citizens should stand up and and help prevent universal access to quality healthcare for all Americans from slip slidin away. Most physicians believe that access to affordable high-quality health care for all Americans is a moral and medical imparative to prevent needless suffering and death.

Some of the provisions of the affordable care act have already been implemented and  others will be implemented over the next few years. Most all Americans support the positive elements of the bill such as elimination of pre-existing health problems as a condition for acquiring insurance, or the ability of dependent children to have insurance on their parent’s policy until age 26, or the ability to insure nearly 50,000,000 Americans who are currently uninsured. That is the easy part, however there are  number of difficult areas that we must overcome to have successful implementation of the bill, such as how will we pay for it, is it constitutional to force all of us to buy health insurance, how will it impact the funding of Medicare, and who will have to pay additional taxes. Additionally , from a physician perspective, a major concern is the ability of current physician manpower and hospital infrastructure to manage the influx of nearly 50,000,000 new patients superimposed on the increased healthcare needs of an aging population. An added concern for physicians is the absence of any reasonable medical malpractice lawsuit reform in this bill, thus preventing the elimination of 7 % of the cost of healthcare due to “preventative medicine” and fear of a lawsuit.

Clearly there’s still a lot of work that is required before full implementation can achieve its goal of high quality affordable health care to all Americans.
It seems that the most important challenge to full implementation of the ACA law  is the issue of its constitutionality. Is it constitutional for United States government to force all Americans to purchase insurance, referred to as the individual mandate? There are a growing number of states that have filed lawsuits to challenge the constitutionality of the ACA’s requirement that individuals buy health insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014. We must understand that  insurance works as a result of the rule of large numbers, therefore it must have healthy people and sick people in the insurance pool, otherwise it does not work. Furthermore, if we were allowed to buy health  insurance only when we get sick, the cost of the insurance would be unaffordable because there are no healthy people premiums to balance the cost. An example would be an ability to buy  fire insurance after the house has burned down. Certainly there are precedents such as the  requirement that drivers have automobile insurance. In our current system, there are some 50 million uninsured Americans who use the emergency room or urgent healthcare facilities and this is at taxpayers expense. It is  this requirement that is getting the majority of the court’s attention and it is the vehicle that is most likely to take healthcare reform“slidin” if the Supreme Court were to declare it unconstitutional. I predict that this will not happen.

For More Detail Visit Donald Saelinger Website


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