There's a very good column at NRO by Charles Krauthammer on the contradictions in President Obama's health care reform plans. It's these contradictions (some might call them deceptions) that are causing the plans to collapse in Congress and with them, perhaps, Mr. Obama's presidency. As we said last week, if he doesn't get health care he'll probably not get cap and trade or another stimulus bill, and if he doesn't get these he won't be able to accomplish much else over the next three years. He will, in effect, be a lame duck after less than a year in office.
Indeed, after the disastrous week he had last week (staying with the wrong side on Honduras, a weak press conference on health care reform, putting his foot in his mouth on the Gates arrest) it would not be surprising to see his approval ratings drop soon into the low forties.
Anyway, the most important part of Krauthammer's column, in my opinion, was the spotlight he cast on the vast distance between Mr. Obama's claim that his health care reform agenda is not about politics and the absence in any of the Democratic plans of tort reform:
This is not about politics? Then why is it, to take but the most egregious example, that in this grand health-care debate we hear not a word about one of the worst sources of waste in American medicine: the insane cost and arbitrary rewards of our malpractice system?
When a neurosurgeon pays $200,000 a year for malpractice insurance before he even turns on the light in his office or hires his first nurse, who do you think pays? Patients, through higher doctors' fees to cover the insurance.
And with jackpot justice that awards one claimant zillions while others get nothing - and one-third of everything goes to the lawyers - where do you think that money comes from? The insurance companies, who then pass it on to you in higher premiums.
But the greatest waste is the hidden cost of defensive medicine: tests and procedures that doctors order for no good reason other than to protect themselves from lawsuits. Every doctor knows, as I did when I practiced years ago, how much unnecessary medical cost is incurred with an eye not on medicine but on the law.
Tort reform would yield tens of billions in savings. Yet you cannot find it in the Democratic bills. And Obama breathed not a word about it in the full hour of his health-care news conference. Why? No mystery. The Democrats are parasitically dependent on huge donations from trial lawyers.
No plan that does nothing about the cost to health care consumers of malpractice insurance and defensive medicine can really be called "reform." If and when the Democrats address tort reform they should then proceed to clean out the $60 billion in fraud and waste in medicare and medicaid.
Read the rest of Krauthammer's column. It's worth the two minutes it'll take.RLC