“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Another AGN drivel editorial

I can’t believe how poorly understood the health care issue is — or perhaps how so committed to the Republican-conservative viewpoint and agenda that a newspaper would want to spread disinformation. But the editorial in the Sept. 15 Amarillo Globe-News (http://www.amarillo.com/stories/091509/opi_opin1.shtml) did just that.

Here are some specific problems.

“He (President Barack Obama) needs to go all the way - by inviting Republicans into the White House, and to consult with them personally with their ideas on how to improve the system.”

Iowa’s Sen. Charles Grassley, the blowhard GOP hit man on health care, was part of meetings at the White House last May. The visit was not only well documented in the media it was also posted on Grassley’s own Web site. Here is the interchange between Grassley and a reporter:

QUESTION: Thank you, Senator. Will you talk to us about your White House visit last week,


GRASSLEY: Yes. I can tell you a lot about it. I won't quote any other person present. There was four of us there. No staff. The president, the vice president, Senator Baucus, and me. We went more of our time talking about health care reform, more about process than


The president made very clear to me that he wants a bipartisan proposal -- I mean, a bipartisan product. And I think he best indicated that by saying that he did rather that a bipartisan one and get part of what he wants than getting all that he wants -- all of what he wants with a partisan vote.

And there was just good change, good atmosphere. The president is very disarming. You feel very much at home. You know, so anything else you want to know, ask me.

The editorial goes on to tout Rep. Mac Thornberry’s column in the Globe-News and suggest Mac has the right answer: tort reform. The editorial said, “One idea for improving the system, said Thornberry, is to set up ‘health courts’ in which doctors and hospitals are ‘judged by their peers.’”

Mac’s suggestion isn’t original. In fact, it will protect screw-up doctors more than ever. New Mexico has this system and, believe it or not, it’s administered by the New Mexico Medical Society. Not many patients win at this level and if they go to court after that, they have and even poorer chance of prevailing.

And none of this addresses that the tort reform in Texas hasn’t lowered costs; that good studies have shown that the effect of tort reform-defensive medicine accounts for less than 1 percent of the total GDP devoted to health care.

But I have a suggestion: If the medical community wants national tort reform, here’s what the public should get in return – (1) All the information in the National Practitioners Data Bank becomes public record; (2) All complaints filed with every state medical board becomes public record, as do all of the adjudication process, including testimony and exhibits. Let’s treat it like a real court case; (3) All hospital (no exemptions for private, government, military, or any hospital) peer review records become public (including morbidly and mortality committee information); and, (4) Hospitals will be required to compute and post case-mix adjusted morbity and mortality rates for all attending physicians on staff.

That’s change I can believe in.