Prominent Author Calls for Medical Malpractice Reform

Tuesday, 31 Jul 2012 11:51 AM

By John Bachman and Andra Varin

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America faces a healthcare crisis because misguided policies have trapped the country in a bureaucratic system that inflates costs while providing less care, a prominent healthcare economist told Newsmax.TV.

“We have completely suppressed the marketplace in healthcare. And we’ve done it decade after decade after decade. So, today, no one ever sees a real price for anything in the medical marketplace. No doctor, no patients, no employee, no employer. When we don’t see real prices, we all face perverse incentives to do things to cause costs to be higher, quality lower, and access more difficult,” said John C. Goodman, author of “Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis.”

Goodman told Newsmax.TV there needs to be a much more efficient way of dealing with malpractice claims.

“The current malpractice system doesn’t work well at all and most real cases of malpractice never go to court, never result in a lawsuit,” he said, adding that when a plaintiff does win a judgment, “most of the money goes to the lawyers and not to the victims.

“What I recommend is that doctors and patients or hospitals and patients be able to voluntarily contract out of the system. Patients would be compensated, regardless of fault, if they suffered an adverse outcome inside a hospital. And they would know, in advance, what the compensation would be. That would be a much better system than the one we have now,” he said.

For instance, a patient entering a hospital might agree with the facility that if he died from any cause other than the original condition, the hospital would have to pay his estate $200,000.

This system would make it much easier for the patient’s survivors to collect the money.

“You never have to give a deposition. You never have to go to the courthouse. You get paid immediately. If something bad happens, then you know in advance what you’re going to be paid,” Goodman explained.

Insurers would quickly realize which doctors and hospitals had repeat complaints.

“Patients on their own can never become good monitors of doctors and hospitals on their own because one hopes that our interaction with them is rare,” Goodman said.

“But an insurance company, paying off claims every day, every week, every month, would be in a very good position to monitor their records and charge much higher premiums to the ones that are screwing up,” he said.

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“Just for economic reasons alone, we’d suddenly get much better safety.”

On Obamacare, Goodman says paying for coverage for young people is going to end up hurting older citizens.

“We’re going to create a new entitlement for young people and more than half the cost is supposed to come from reduced spending on old people, on Medicare. But the chief actuary of Medicare said if you really do this, hospitals will be closing and seniors won’t be able to find doctors who will treat them,” he said.

Obamacare will also lead to cuts in service to the underprivileged, Goodman said.

“Our vulnerable populations are going to be in real trouble. We’re going to greatly expand the demand for medical care. We’ve done nothing on the supply side. So we’re going to have a big rationing problem and in that kind of environment, doctors will always, of course, take the patients first who pay them the most. So if you’re in a plan that pays below market, you’re going to be at the end of the waiting line,” he said.

“And who are those patients? It’s the elderly and the disabled on Medicare, poor people on Medicaid.”

John C. Goodman is a research fellow with The Independent Institute and President of the National Center for Policy Analysis.


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