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Politicians and Tort Reform

Updated on October 28, 2017

So, I read that Vice-President Pence broke a tie in the Senate to end what is being called consumer protection. Basically, it allowed people to sue financial institutions and credit card companies, etc. Instead of using arbitration. The Democrats are selling the vote as a betrayal of the American consumer and a benefit to the banks. What they aren't saying is that, had the measure passed, lawyers could file class-action lawsuits against financial institutions, credit card companies, etc. You probably trying to figure out what that has to do with you--the average American consumer. I'll tell you.

Health care is a hot topic. It is expensive and insurance companies charge a lot in premiums without giving much in return--unless you are a share-holder. Universal health care coverage has been a topic in every election I can remember. The problem has never been successfully addressed. I mean, let's be honest, Obamacare was a failure before it ever started. Obama should never have signed the thing. Why? Most architects of universal health care plans look to Europe and Canada for their ideas. This is a problem because Europe and Canada are not America. Doctors in Europe and Canada do not accrue the student loan burden American doctors do. Doctors in Europe and Canada do not get sued, period. So the initial costs of health care are lower in Europe and Canada than they are here.

The next problem with universal health care in America is the cost of pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceutical companies spend as much on lawsuits as they do on research and development. The cost of those lawsuits falls on the consumer.

Tort reform has to happen before there can be universal health care. Do people have the right to sue a doctor? Yes, however, I am not talking about a patient suing a doctor who causes a life-time physical disability. I am talking about the law firms that advertise everywhere it is legal to in order to get enough people to file a frivolous class-action lawsuit. The problem with class-action lawsuits is that the only people benefiting--let's a call a dog a dog--profiting from them are the lawyers. Now, tort reform has been bashed as being a way for the big bad pharmaceutical companies and rich doctors to rob the patients because tort reform has always included caps on the money awarded to the plaintiffs--the people suing. So, I thought about doing tort reform differently.

Instead of putting caps on the money awarded to the people who actually suffered from the product, procedure, etc., cap the money paid to the lawyers filing the suits. Now, a lawyer filing a class-action lawsuit gets a percentage of the award off the top. That means they get 20% or more of the original award. Whatever is left is then divided among the people they represented. You do the math. Tort reform should make it unprofitable to file frivolous lawsuits. Lawyers filing class-action lawsuits should get a flat fee regardless of the payout (if any). They should have to pay the defendant's legal fees if they lose and all of this without billing the people they are representing. Big companies should also be barred from making lawsuits profitable to their lawyers. Lawyers who are not on the company pay-roll should be the ones to defend them in class-action lawsuits so that the lawyers on both sides do not profit from class-action lawsuits and so that the lawyers arguing both sides are evenly matched.

So how does all that relate to the vote Vice-President Pence made last night? His vote prevented a whole new world of class-action lawsuits being filed. By having to use arbitration, lawyers can't file frivolous class-action lawsuits against financial institutions, etc. in order to make money.

Until doctors don't have to carry millions in malpractice insurance, universal healthcare will not be successful. Until pharmaceutical companies don't have to payout on frivolous lawsuits, universal healthcare will not be successful.

One last point, I have referred to universal healthcare not health insurance. Why? Insurance companies are gamblers. They try to bring in enough revenue to run the company and create a big profit margin for their shareholders. They gamble they won't have to pay out on claims. As long as for-profit insurance companies are providing health insurance, universal healthcare will not be successful. No profit earning insurance company will accept preexisiting conditions because that's a bad bet. No profit earning insurance company will take the risks required in providing universal health coverage unless they are guaranteed a large enough base--that is, premiums coming in--to make the profits they want.

It's just too bad that most of our representatives, the ones who can enact tort reform, happen to be lawyers.


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