The Republican party, as anyone with their eyes open knows, exists for the sole purpose of promoting the interests of the very richest people in the world. The greatest evidence of that is the fact that, no matter what problem our nation confronts, their solution always comes down to a few predictable positions.
Obviously, one of these is to cut taxes on the rich, which is their answer to any economic situation. Government surplus? Cut taxes. Deficit? Cut taxes. No matter what, there they are, working hard to give the rich another big present. Another consists in their seeing giveaways to energy companies as an essential part of any responsible economic package.
Another one of these is what they call "tort reform." This one is raising its ugly head again, based on the thin pretense that doctors have to pay for insurance (like every other business owner in the country,) and therefore, somehow, it is essential to relieve them of the responsibility for their professional actions if we want to cut health care costs.
I have watched Republican calls for "tort reform" for decades now, and I thought this was a good time to discuss exactly what they mean by this typically cynical name.
As you are probably aware, a person that wants to sue a corporation or a rich person normally hires an attorney on a "contingent fee" basis. This means that the attorney charges nothing unless he wins the case, at which time he gets a significant part of the award. On the other hand, large corporations, including the companies that insure doctors, have staffs of lawyers ready to go to work for them, and have no need to hire an attorney on a contingent fee basis.
Well, it's pretty obvious that, if you are going to take on an insurance company or a hospital in court, they are going to find it easy to see that you pile up millions in legal bills. Without the ability to hire an attorney on a contingent fee basis, you're out of luck, buster.
Now we come to the heart of the matter. The Republican cry for tort reform, now several decades old, consists of one thing and one thing only: the elimination of the ability to sue on a contingent fee basis. Need a translation: Injured by medical malpractice? Come up with several million dollars in the bank, and then you can sue. Need a further translation: "Tort reform" in plain words means eliminating the ability of average Americans to hold the rich accountable for their actions.
That's it. That's Tort Reform, Republican style. Sound like a good deal to you?
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