Thursday, January 13, 2005

EG has some questions and deserves some answers, if I can:

EG says:
I have some questions about this (I must admit that I didn't follow the entire stream of events regarding this topic but I realize this has been simmering for years):

1. Did Ehrlich propose an alternate measure that was acceptable to the medical establishment?
2. I thought Doctors gave to the Republicans and Lawyers to the Democrats. How is it the Republicans couldn't come up with a plan that was suitable to the entire medical community?
3. Do you think the Doctors will make an issue of this in the 2006 elections?

1. Interestingly enough, the differences between the two sides was not too far except for (a) the amount of tort reform and (b) how to finance the malpractice "fix." The gov wanted to finance the "fix" (a slush fund) out of general revenues including some fly-by-night sources. (One idea that was floated was to levy a new tax on drunk drivers. However, this would have been $30,000 per arrest; not an idea that has a lot of oomph.) The Legislature decided to remove the exemption on a tax that certain medical insurance companies enjoyed. They had that exemption ostensibly so that they would offer insurance to people at a lower cost. As I pointed out in my blog, this is pretty bogus. The insurance companies are not hurting. Remember, the CEO of the second largest in Maryland (United HealthCare) makes $38,000,000 in cash per year. So, the conclusion is that the gov is in political debt to the insurance companies via his commissioner.

I'll be honest, I think we only see a very small piece of the iceberg that is politics in Maryland. There is so much behind what is done that we never know that my comments are probably 180 degrees off. Its fun to blog, though.

As for true tort reform, i.e. a significant limit on the amount that people (and lawyers) make from the malpractice game, this will never come about as long as we have a legislative process. The simple reason is that almost all of the representatives and senators are lawyers! In fact, the law office of the leader of the house of representatives brings malpractice suits against doctors (talk about a conflict of interest). They are not going to vote against themselves no matter how much their constituents holler and scream.

2. Many in the medical community liked the Republican plan; it just didn't have a chance because of what I just said. It is true that docs usually support the Republicans and lawyers support dems; I'm not sure of why this is since it is the lawyers who are now rich and the docs are increasingly poor (relatively speaking, of course). Actually, the docs are mostly foreign. My friend tells me half the medical school class at GW in D.C. is from India! Ironically, the best medical school in the world is now in Bombay.

3. Docs are a miniscule voting block. Patients don't understand the politics any better than we do. I'm a dem because my father was a Roosevelt dem. I'm not sure I would listen to my doctor on how to vote. Very few people listen to me when I talk politics.

Thanks for the comments and keep up the fight.

1 comment:

EG said...

Thanks for the response. I am thinking of doing a blog dedicated to Maryland state politics. I live in PG county so that doesn't allow me to visit the physical capital and offices but am looking at local newspapers/reporters to glean information. That may not work with our present Governor banning reporters, etc.

Regarding the Maryland doctor voting coalition, you are absolutely correct that we patients are confused about local politics. I normally wouldn't have noticed by own Senator's vote (who is a Democrat) on malpractice since the veto was overturned but he voted with the Republicans. Yet every two years, his yard signs talk about voting Democratic.

I suspect the Democrats to fight over who will challenge Erhlich in 2006 and then lose the race. Erhlich is still popular in the state (I don't know why) and the Democrats will pit candidates frm Baltimore against Montgomery County with PG County as the deciding vote.