We now know that President Obama has decided to endorse four “Republican” ideas that he says he’s willing to support to get a health care bill passed. Now that things are moving in a “reconciliation” direction, it is unclear how exactly these items will end up in any legislation. But let's talk about one of them anyway.
One of the items the President has decided to endorse comes from Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), a doctor whose record on a number of issues has to be seen to be believed including his own malpractice history. His idea is to give states the option of enacting either of two horribly anti-patient ideas.
One would force patients to first present their case before a “screening panel” made of up representatives from the health care industry (with clear conflicts of interest) and attorneys (also with conflicts of interest especially if representing health care providers or insurers). This would add horrendous and completely unnecessary burdens on patients just to get into court, assuming they could even get there after going through all of this. The other terrible idea is to require patients to go before a "health court", which we have written about before.
Coburn and the President apparently feel this is necessary even though the Harvard School of Public Health found that the current system already works: legitimate claims are being paid, non-legitimate claims are generally not being paid, and “portraits of a malpractice system that is stricken with frivolous litigation are overblown.” In addition, weakening the jury system will infect the bargaining/settlement process, which already resolves the vast majority of claims today, and thus will create more adjudicated claims.
What's even more crazy, Sen. Coburn has made clear that this overture to him gets the President nowhere on health care. AP reports:
Republicans, meanwhile, made it clear the president's overtures will not win their hearts or votes.
Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who proposed some of the notions Obama is weighing, said that "merely incorporating these ideas into the deeply flawed House and Senate bills will not bring us any closer to real reform."
What is going on with our President?