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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Health Care Minnesota: the Republican plan

Posted by: Hammer / 1:04 PM

Via Minnesota Politics we find this Strib report on the Republican health care plan for Minnesota:
Republican legislators launched a wide-ranging offensive Tuesday on unlimited medical malpractice claims in Minnesota, calling for caps on lawsuit awards similar to those in 30 other states.

"Reforming our professional liability and malpractice system now is critical," said Rep. Brad Finstad, R-New Ulm. "We need to act now before it becomes a crisis." ...

All nine Republicans voted for the measure, which would limit noneconomic damages, such as for pain and suffering, and punitive damages to $250,000 each for malpractice in obstetric or emergency-room procedures. The bill also would cap plaintiffs' attorney fees in such cases and award punitive damages to a state health insurance fund. All six DFLers voted no.

Noting that Minnesota's average malpractice insurance premiums are among the lowest in the nation -- lower than in most states that have damage caps -- Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, a lawyer, said the bill would do little more than "pick winners and losers." ...

He said limiting malpractice awards would do nothing to keep down health care costs. The $27.5 million paid in such settlements last year in Minnesota amounted to 0.1 percent of all health care spending in the state, Huntley added.

3WN trusts juries on this issue and opposes caps on damages.

The Republicans are going to keep running the same play until we stop it. Step 1 is find a real issue: Social Security's long-term solvency, the rising cost of health care, international terrorism. Step 2 is to advance a "solution" that utterly fails to address the issue. Privatization worsens Social Security's long-term financial outlook. Medical malpractice premiums are a miniscule part of health care spending and are far more closely related to insurers' profit margins than jury verdicts. Iraq had no ties to terrorism to justify an invasion which has done little, if anything, to make us safer.

The play has worked so well that Minnesota Republicans are now skipping step 1 and moving to step 2: advancing a solution that won't solve a problem that doesn't even exist yet.


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