“I don’t know that these gaps can be bridged.” That quote by President Obama succinctly sums up the political theatre production of the Health Reform Summit, which yesterday played live for a nationally televised audience.
The Summit was billed as a bi-partisan effort to resuscitate health reform legislation. But it was more cynically anticipated to be a show produced by the Obama administration to force passage of a Democratic-produced bill temporarily stalled by Republicans. Basically, political theatre.
In his opening remarks at The Summit, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Ten.) listed several ideas vital to successful reform that were, to date, left out of the proposed bills. Tort reform, Alexander said, would “put an end to junk lawsuits against doctors. In our state half the counties, pregnant women have to drive to the big city to have prenatal health care or to have their baby because the medical malpractice suits have driven up the insurance policies so high that doctors leave the rural counties.”
We welcome all opinions here and would gladly print views opposing tort reform. However, we don’t get them. It’s hard to argue against an idea that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, “would lower costs for health care both directly, by reducing medical malpractice costs—which consist of malpractice insurance premiums and settlements, awards, and legal and administrative costs not covered by insurance—and indirectly, by reducing the use of health care services through changes in the practice patterns of providers.” Tort reform, according to the CBO, “would reduce federal budget deficits by about $54 billion during the 2010–2019 period.”
Back at The Summit, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), challenged Sen. Alexander by suggesting “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.” Reid said Republicans have a right to oppose the current legislation, but they also have a responsibility to “propose ideas for making it better.” This comment was made after Alexander proposed his ideas for making it better, which further cemented this production as a live, talking point show.
Let us know your thoughts on The Summit….