Can't judge a policy by its price tag
This argument from Charles Krauthammer is really very weird:
The final act was carefully choreographed. The rollout began a week earlier with a couple of shows of bipartisanship: a Feb. 25 Blair House "summit" with Republicans, followed five days later with a few concessions tossed the Republicans' way.
Show is the operative noun. Among the few Republican suggestions President Obama pretended to incorporate was tort reform. What did he suggest to address the plague of defensive medicine that a Massachusetts Medical Society study showed leads to about 25 percent of doctor referrals, tests and procedures being done for no medical reason? A few ridiculously insignificant demonstration projects amounting to one-half of one-hundredth of 1 percent of the cost of his health-care bill.
Reasonable people can disagree with whether state-run demonstration projects are the best way to figure out an effective medical malpractice system (they can also disagree with Krauthammer's number, which is eye-poppingly high, and bears no relationship to the demonstrated gains from tort reform. Many states have imposed harsh tort reforms and their medical system is barely any different. Texas is one of those states, yet McAllen is the national poster child for unnecessary care).
But whatever tort reform you attempt, it's not going to be expensive. Tort reform is a series of regulations that change the way lawsuits are handled. Saying that the experiments come to only "one-half of one-hundredth of 1 percent of the cost of his health-care bill" is saying exactly nothing about them. If they made all malpractice lawsuits illegal, they'd actually have a negative cost to the federal government, but by Krauthammer's logic, they'd be a total slap in the face to reform advocates.
March 5, 2010; 5:47 PM ET
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