While the I-like-to-sit-in-committee-rooms kind of doctors, who rise to high bureaucratic positions at the American Medical Association, have thrown their support to ObamaCare, many doctors aren’t sold. In Sunday’s Washington Post, cardiologist Arthur M. Feldman makes some good points:
We urgently need tort reform, but it's nowhere to be seen.
Malpractice costs rise each year, as do the number of frivolous lawsuits. Our practice has seen a 10 percent increase in malpractice expenses this year. Sure, doctors make mistakes, and patients deserve fair compensation for their injuries and lost wages, but in this area of the law, physicians and hospitals are too often at the mercy of capricious juries.
We do need tort reform, but it’s naïve to think that capricious juries are the cause of the problem. Even when cases never get to a jury, the tort system is ruinously slow and expensive. It doesn’t matter much if a judge or jury makes the final ruling. Also, the biggest harm comes not from the doctors’ malpractice costs, but from the defensive medicine they practice out of fear of the lawsuits.
Obama has called for disease prevention on a national scale, but that won't be a cure-all. Louise Russell, a researcher at Rutgers University, analyzed hundreds of studies on prevention and medical costs and found that, in general, prevention adds to costs instead of reducing them.
And Feldman, unlike the politicians, recognizes the enormous costs imposed by the FDA’s bureaucratic hurdles:
Creating and producing new drug therapies in the United States is a nightmare. Regulatory hurdles, disorganization and a lack of leadership at the FDA, as well as burdensome conflict-of-interest policies, have made the drug-approval process grindingly slow. At the same time, development costs are close to $1 billion per drug. Federal regulations are so convoluted that most clinical trials are now performed outside the country -- taking billions of dollars out of the U.S. economy and making it harder for American patients to be first in line for new treatments.
Congress should listen to doctors like Feldman rather than AMA bureaucrats.
- Pre-October 2009