NO TORT REFORM IN DEM HEALTH BILL, BUT WHY? - AT 8:05 A.M. ET: The standard reason given for the lack of medical malpractice reform - tort reform - in the Democrats' health bill is the power of the trial lawyers in the Democratic Party. Even Howard Dean conceded that.
But just how powerful are they? The Washington Examiner reports the extent of that clout, and it is truly staggering:
In the ranking by OpenSecrets.org of campaign contributions by the top 100 special interests during the past 20 years, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) – formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America – ranks sixth overall. The AAJ is the trial lawyers’ Washington lobbying group, and 90 percent of its $30.7 million in contributions since 1989 went to Democrats. At the other end of this pay-to-play process in the nation’s capitol, AAJ has spent nearly $14 million lobbying Congress just since Democrats won control of both chambers, including $2.3 million thus far this year.
The Democratic focus of the plaintiffs bar is even more obvious from campaign contributions of National Journal’s top 15 class-action trial attorney firms. As the Examiner’s David Freddoso and Kevin Mooney reported last week, those firms have contributed in 2009 more than $636,000, 99 percent of which went to Democrats. And employees of those firms have given more than $236,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid faces an uphill re-election battle, but the top trial lawyers firms are right there for him, with contributions totaling some $54,000 to date.
COMMENT: Now you know. We hasten to add, by the way, that trial lawyers also do some very fine and critically important work in this country. Let's not paint with a broad brush. But on the issue of tort reform they're self-interested, and doing harm. As the Examiner points out:
As governors like Texas’ Rick Perry and Mississippi’s Haley Barbour have demonstrated in recent years, capping medical malpractice suits can save billions of dollars by lowering the cost of insurance for providers and increasing access to quality care for patients. Without such caps, trial lawyers stand to continue raking in millions of dollars in fees by bringing suspect suits.
The absence of of tort reform in the Democratic health bill makes a mockery of the claim that it's a piece of "reform" legislation.
August 31, 2009