More “Tort Deform” Tales With Baby Newton Leroy

newt-gingrich-babyWow, did the Inky publish some true editorial hackery today from the author of the former “Contract On America” himself (you know, the guy who accused President Obama of having a “fantasy” foreign policy on North Korea after the former House speaker said we should shoot down their missiles with “lasers” here – Gingrich also said that we should have a space-based air traffic control system here…I kid you not).

The subject of Gingrich’s screed was “tort reform” for PA (here)…

Civil-justice reform, also known as tort reform, has often been viewed as a battle between the health-care community (physicians and hospitals) and personal-injury lawyers. However, there is another side to tort reform that personal-injury lawyers don’t want to talk about: It can jump-start the economy and create new jobs.

States that have enacted tort-reform measures have significantly improved access to health care, reduced costs, and strengthened economies.

Texas is a prime example. In 2003, Texas enacted comprehensive legal reform, including appropriate limits on noneconomic damages (compensation for such intangibles as emotional distress). As a result, Texas has seen an incredible influx of physicians. According to the Texas Medical Board, more than 10,000 doctors have either returned to the state or decided to move there as a direct result of the legal reforms.

As a result, it has also seen this…

A class action lawsuit filed in Eastern District of Texas argues that the 2003 Tort Reform Act limiting non-economic damages is unconstitutional. The Tort Reform Act overhauled civil litigation in Texas by placing a cap on non-economic damages. The bill has been a source of controversy since its induction. The bill does not place a cap on economic losses including medical expenses and loss of income, but limits the amount that can be awarded to a plaintiff for intangible harms such as severe pain, physical and emotional distress, disfigurement, loss of the enjoyment of life that an injury has caused, including sterility, loss of sexual organs, physical impairment and loss of a loved one among other damages. According to the complaint the bill violates several provisions of the Constitution. The alleged violations include provisions of the First, Seventh, Fifth, and the Fourteenth amendment.

But of course, to hear Newt tell it, it’s wonderful for the economy, so who cares about continual pain and suffering without compensation for that or reimbursement of treatment costs for counseling as a result of a horribly botched medical procedure, to say nothing of relinquishing those pesky civil liberties (so incon-vee-nient for the Repugs in this “post-9/11” world of ours).

And of course doctors are going to flock to Texas when they know that they won’t have to face the same penalties for negligence in the way of damages in that state as opposed to others. But so what?

Tort “reform” creates jobs, dammit!

And by the way, the co-author of the Inky editorial is Wayne Oliver, noted at the end of the column as project director of the “Center for Health Transformation,” founded by Gingrich.

This tells you more about the center, which is bankrolled by (among others) such “Founding Charter Members” as drug makers AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, as well as health care “players” Siemens, BlueCross BlueShield, UnitedHealth Group, GE Healthcare, and other diverse corporate interests (including Ford and DaimlerChrysler).

“Platinum” members include Barr Labs and Wellpoint (“Premium” members are a veritable “Who’s Who” among other health care firms). And by the way, can anyone explain to me why, on the site’s home page which ostensibly deals with health care issues, a “news release” appears that attacks the Employee Free Choice Act?

Besides, “tort reform” is a typically Repug-tested-and-marketed catchphrase from the same people who brought you the “death tax,” “partial-birth abortion” and “welfare queens” (as noted here). It’s a “remedy” to spiraling out-of-control costs that looks awfully attractive as a means of providing coverage while watching our health care dollars in the process.

That is, unless you get hurt.


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