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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Health Care Costs and Malpractice Premiums Data Show No Link to "Lawsuit Crisis"

10 comments

Want more evidence that "lawsuit abuse", "frivolous lawsuits", and these "Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse" groups are shams perpetrated on the public by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Big Insurance, Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, and the medical community? Not self-serving propaganda, but facts? Well, here you go!

For those of you not interested in exploring the link, here are the highlights: Public Citizen, a non-profit, pro-citizens group that serves as "the people’s voice in the nation’s capital" has researched the issue of malpractice payments made in lawsuits over the past seven years. Their conclusion?

For the seventh straight year, the number of medical malpractice payments made on behalf of doctors fell, hitting the lowest point on record…

Now, understand, folks. Public Citizen has no skin in the litigation game. Its only goal, since its founding in 1971 is to:

ensure that all citizens are represented in the halls of power.

This organization lobbies/champions for citizen rights and interests, period. It does so in Congress and in the courts. Is it anti-business? Well, sometimes, but only in the context of challenging corporate wrongdoers when they deliberately lie, cheat or steal from our citizens (which, unfortunately, is pretty often). "Lawsuit Abuse", "Tort Reform" "Frivolous Lawsuits" and other phony arguments for restricting citizen access to our civil justice system are examples of the extent (at citizen expense) corporate America will go for addtional profits.

Public Citizen has five, distinct, policy groups: Its "Congress Watch Division", "Energy Program", "Global Trade Watch", "Health Research Group" and, finally, its Litigation Group. You can Learn more about them here.

Public Citizen does not get involved in political campaigns or endorse candidates for office. It simply represents the public, you know, "we, the people". Considering that every "Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse" group that springs up is a pro-business front, with the national or local Chambers of Commerce behind it, it is refreshing to see some honest, pro-citizen reporting, for a change.

Here’s more of what Public Citizen had to say about the so-called "lawsuit crisis" as it relates to medical malpractice claims:

1. That malpractice payments in lawsuits are at their lowest since 1990, when adjusted for inflation.

2. That lawmakers trying to push a national tort reform (an attempt to restrict the ability of people harmed by others-including doctors and hospitals-to go to court for compensation) agenda (H.R. 5) are pushing it based on a bogus premise. David Arkush, Director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division had this to say:

“The premise on which this bill is based is bogus. Health care costs have nothing to do with what’s going on in the courtroom. Lawmakers are using it an excuse to throw a bone to their campaign contributors in the health care industry, who don’t want patients to have legal recourse if they are harmed by malpractice.”

Surprise, surprise! Business is using millions in campaign contributions to influence politicians to stick it to injured and disabled people so that corporate America can make more money. And this isn’t a finding by trial lawyers, folks; this is a finding by a non-profit, non-political, citizen advocacy group!

Here’s what else Public Citizen found:

3. Between 2000-2010, health care costs rose 90% while malpractice payouts fell 12%

4. Malpractice payouts in 2010 were just a tad over one-tenth of one percent of national health care costs.

5. The total cost of medical malpractice litigation was four tenths of one percent, its lowest level since 1990.

Public Citizen also found that the decline of litigation incidents was not accompanied by a reduction in medical errors. In other words, serious errors are being made that are not being pursued in litigation. It seems to me that this statistic is alarming; all of us are less safe in the operating room. Taylor Lincoln, the Research Director for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division sums it up:

There is a crisis in medical malpractice, not lawsuits. Trying to stop people from being compensated for catastrophic injuries is not the answer. We should instead concentrate on making hospitals safer and disciplining doctors who repeatedly commit malpractice.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Mark M. Bello is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation where he is instrumental in providing legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessity of life lawsuit funding is needed during litigation. Mr. Bello has thirty-four years experience as a trial lawyer and 13 years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the litigation funding industry. Mr. Bello is a sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association, Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Member of the American and Michigan Bar Associations, Member of the Public Justice Foundation, out-of-state member of the Mississippi Association for Justice and a business associate of the Florida Justice Association, Tennessee Association for Justice, Central Ohio Association for Justice and the Consumer Attorneys of California. He is also a proud member of the InjuryBoard.

10 Comments

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  1. francielopez says:
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    There can be a difference between what you and a health insurance company consider healthy. Some insurers will say that you have a health condition if you smoke, are overweight, are taking prescriptions, or had a medical condition in the past. If this describes you, you may want to search and read “Penny Health” on the web.

  2. Ben Rush MD says:
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    Mr Bello’s business enterprise would go belly-up if meaningful liability reform were enacted. All you need to know.

  3. Mark Bello says:
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    My business will do just fine, with or without this type of anti-citizen tort reform. But, how does tort reform effect your business, Dr. Rush? ALL WE NEED TO KNOW. Why do you need tort reform if your service does not breach the standard of care? And, if/when you do breach it, as some of your colleagues do, why aren’t you willing to pay what the system mandates? Why should you get government protection from paying what you should while inadequate compensation causes victims to get “hurt” a second time? Why should the taxpayers pick up the tab for a doctor’s misconduct? Lawyers are willing to be held to the same professional standard of care, why aren’t you and your fellow doctors? ALL WE NEED TO KNOW. These statistics do not come from lawyers, they come from a pro-citizen non-profit, which sole purpose is to enforce the bill of rights. Malpractice incidents are up; malpractice lawsuits are down. You are not policing your own. Yet, anti-citizen tort reform, already passed, state to state, isn’t enough for you. You and your ilk hide behind phony “citizens against lawsuit abuse” groups and the various chambers of commerce. That’s where your “statistics” come from. You, sir, are a hypocrite; you kind of remind me of John Stossel. ALL WE NEED TO KNOW!

  4. Mike Bryant says:
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    Dr Rush you apparently haven’t look at much of what Mark writes, because he writes about a lot more things that drive down personal injury cases. Take a look at
    His piece on
    – Motorcycle safety:
    http://southfield.injuryboard.com/motorcycle-accidents/sharing-the-road-with-motorcycles.aspx?googleid=290392

    – Distracted Drivers:
    http://southfield.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/distracted-driving-is-lethal.aspx?googleid=290588

    – Driving near Big Rigs
    http://southfield.injuryboard.com/tractor-trailer-accidents/drive-safely-around-big-rigs.aspx?googleid=285346

    A lot of what he writes is to make the world safer and save more lives.
    He really should be honored for that.

  5. Pam Egan says:
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    To blame the current healthcare crisis entirely on lawsuits would be a vast oversimplification of a very complex issue. Any solution has to be multifaceted in nature, and anyone who pretends otherwise is not being honest.

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    Mark,

    Thanks for your post. Unfortunately, we live in an age when misinformation and ignorance have a stranglehold on the public’s view of the civil justice system. My brother is a neurosurgeon and did not even realize until I told him the other day that there was LEGAL malpractice. Yes, Ben. Lawyers are actually held accountable when they mess up.

    The bottom line is that malpractice suits are a small part of the civil trial lawyer’s practice. Most do not even handle these types of claims. Yes, Ben. Most trial lawyers DO NOT TAKE med mal claims.

    Physicians and Lawyers need to ban together to fight the common enemy….insurance companies. They are the greedy ones and are certainly not in the best interest of the consumer. Ben, certainly you agree with this? If so, join us in the fight against them. We’re all on the same side.

    Ben,

    I also strongly urge you to watch a documentary next Monday evening on HBO called Hot Coffee. I think it will answer a lot of the questions you have. Check it out here:

    http://tinyurl.com/3z663z8

    -Patrick

  7. Jim O'Hare RPLU AIC IAS says:
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    The High cost of Health care and Med Mal premiums have one thing in common- Doctors. Thats it.

    Blue cross doesnt write med mal. There are no med mal carriers that write health coverage. One does not relate to the other.

    Blue cross could care less what med mal premiums are. When a jury returns a verdict for a gazillion dollars, what effect does that have on Blue cross? – none.
    For example:

    The cost of cigarette lighters has no affect on the cost of cigarettes. Different companies with the same consumers. If you smoke, you need both.

    Cheap lighters or expensive lighters does not mean cheap or expensive cigarettes, and you cant blame lung cancer on the lighters. Yes, if there are no lighters there would be no lung cancer. – really?

    Health care and med mal are two separate and independant problems that need individual attention to correct the weak spots.

    If McCarron Ferguson of 1945 is repealed, opening up countrywide competition for the health care dollar, the cost of health care would plummet. If you agree with that- Then.

    Med Mal reform would then be viewed as a complete success, (caps etc ), when the price of health care drops due to the repeal of Mc-F of 45. Health care got cheap, must have been those med mal reforms.

    Think about it.

    regards
    Jim O’Hare RPLU AIC AIS
    Director of Claims
    Medicus Ins CO
    Austin Tx

  8. Jon Lewis says:
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    Mr. O’Hare, Blue Cross is affected by a large med mal verdict. How? Subrogation. Blue Cross gets its money back which would actually lower their costs.

    There are two stories I can tell which illustrate the engine behind all of this. One, a defense attorney told me. The other is a rumor, but makes sense.

    In the first, the defense attorney used to represent Mutual Assurance (MASA and now ProAssurance), both based in Birmingham. The adjuster told the defense attorney, “You need to lose some of these cases so doctors will think they need us.”

    In the second, they were having a meeting in Florida about medical malpractice and tort reform. They invited everyone. Plaintiff attorneys. Defense attorneys. Doctors. And Insurers. A plaintiff’s attorney stood up and asked, “Why don’t we just give doctors total immunity?” Who responded? The insurance person. What did he say? “Oh, we can’t do that.”

    Why not? Why these two stories? The insurance companies want the money. They want the premiums. Who pays when verdicts are rendered? The doctors? The hospitals? The nurses? No, the insurance carriers, and they want to stay in business.

    I was speaking to an anesthesiologist’s girlfriend recently. She told me he is very upset because a man just died in the hospital because he was not given the proper care. Will this doctor tell anyone? No. Will the family be compensated? Doubtfully. The hospital had a “Quality Assurance” meeting to discuss what occurred. Why “Quality Assurance” in quotes? Because, the Alabama Medical Liability Act protects those conversations from discovery and admissibility so the public will never know.

    So, there you have it Dr. Rush. It is not about Mr. Bello’s business going under. His business is not based solely on Medical Malpractice claims. In fact, it is probably a small percentage of his business.

    At the end of the day, you can espouse your thoughts that we need tort reform, especially in the health care arena. But, in reality, if something unfortunate happens in your family, you will be the first to call an attorney, and you will try to convince the attorney why malpractice occurred, and yet, the attorney will be VERY skeptical and unlikely to take the case. We look at hundreds of potential malpractice cases a year, and we may take one.

    As Mr. Bryant said above, people should be evaluating how to make things safer and better, and that will not occur with caps. If a $250,000 cap is placed on malpractice claims, you might as well give doctors immunity and eliminate malpractice coverage altogether. Watch the ProAssurance stock if these caps are in place. It will be interesting to see.

    That brings me to one last question. If malpractice claims are so prevalent and costing health care so much money, why has ProAssurance stock risen so much? It’s share price has gone from 17.35 in 2002 to 67.89 today. Amazing since they have had to pay out SOOO many malpractice claims, don’t you think?

  9. Jim O'Hare RPLU AIC IAS says:
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    Thanks for your reply Jon:

    That Birmingham adjuster is a dope. Quality assurance has it’s place in the world, after 26 years, I still dont know exactly what it is. It has no affect on the bottom line. Cant measure what doesnt happen, and frequency never really changes.

    There is still may be a good case there, QA or no QA, and internal discussions of the case should be private. Just like yours are.

    Frequency has generally been the same forever, with increasing severity over the years.

    I am sure that good cases come in your door that need to be rejected because there is no coverage or the damages are not large enough to make it worth while.

    Why is it that you turn away so many? How many where there is just no malpractice, damages, or causation. All of those people think that they have a case.

    Health care is a carefully selected term by lobbyists and marketers. It is, at best, catastrophe coverage, maybe disease control.

    Good healthcare in the US is measured by a full hospital not an empty one, think about that for a second. Built in anti trust protection and a captive audience. What are your HC rates in Georgia versus Alabama? Can you get them? no

    There is never any money in a cure , but plenty in treating the symptoms. Just think what would happen if Diabetes was cured. There are billions earned in treatment of the symptoms. Some interested parties that will lose $ if cured.

    Pills are invented then tested to see what they work well with. Viagra was an accident. Dry eye syndrome, restless leg syndrome. It is a joke, with a license to steal. Health care and pharmacy has done more to hurt us, than the few doctors that produce most of the claims. First priority?

    Where else do you enjoy paying high monthly premiums, in order to satisfy a large deductible, so you can reach for your wallet for the copay. What a scam and should be priority A for fixing.
    Recent trip to the ER , got 7 stitches and a tetnus shot = $2300.00 dollars. I predict tha Humana and BC/BS dont have anything to worry about.

    Mark is entitled to make a buck. Good for him. I just have a disagreement with his logic, connecting MM and HC.

    RE caps- can we get real for a second. This is just for the one and only subjective cause of action, among many causes of action. $250k may be light, maybe 500k. Argue for mandatory insurance and higher limits.

    Stock price is a poor barometer for your med mal argument. They are a successful company, so was AIG. Good rates and good risks means profit. They settle claims with merit early to save LAE. Connecting profit and the lack of a crisis is a hollow argument. Like the affect of med mal on health care costs.

    I can point to a company with a negative surplus, whatever that is, and prove some point or other re the med mal crisis. It still wont be true.

    My prior post stated that there is no connection between health care and med mal. Different industries.

    You dont want poor insurance companies do you?

    I would run to an attorney for help just like you would run to a doctor when sick- what is the point there?

    Regards Jim

  10. Mark Bello says:
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    Jim: I don’t connect MM with health care; supporters of HR 5 do. When have I ever said that malpractice has anything to do with the cost of healthcare? I have said exactly the opposite, less than one tenth of one percent. That was the whole point of the post (and the many others that I have penned)! Tort reform is based on the sham that the two are interrelated; I have long argued the opposite. The only connection is that whenever tort reform succeeds, the tax payers are saddled with the difference in health care costs not assumed by the perpetrator that, as Jon correctly points out, without tort reform, would be recovered by a health care insurer by subrogation in a successful malpractice recovery.