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  • Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal





    Saturday, October 23, 2004

    We have met the enemy and it is us 

    Ohioans were beginning to think President Bush was pulling an Al Gore. He hadn't been to Ohio in three weeks. Four years ago, Gore pulled out of Ohio earlier because he thought that Bush owned the state only to discover that a more determined effort here might have allowed him to win the electoral vote as well as the popular one. The president's absense, if anything, had been based upon what his advisors' belief, despite the polls and the hundreds of thousands of new registrants, that their man has a firm hold on the state. He certainly has a hold on the issue of medical malpractice suits and the costs they add to health care and the defensive approach they force upon doctors.

    Speaking at the Palace Theatre in Canton, the president surrounded himself with medical professionals being driving out of practice or to limit their practices (obstetricians who no longer deliver babies due to the cost of high cost of insurance to protect themselves from lawsuits).

    ``If you think you're going to get sued,'' Bush said, ``you're going to practice more medicine than is needed so you can defend yourself in a court of law.''

    This is one of those nuanced issues that the president and others try to make black and white. Lawyers cause the problem by bringing suits that result in awards so large that the profession is damaged. It isn't that simple. Who hires the lawyers? We do. Who serves on the juries that hand out outrageous awards? We do. Who sees the legal system as another possible form of hitting the lottery? We do.

    ``I think our philosophy has to change,'' Dr. Tom Schwieterman, a family doctor in western Ohio's Mercer County told the Bush faithful. ``Patients need to know that health care isn't always perfect. Pregnancies aren't always perfect.''

    As a generality, most Ohioans would accept Dr. Schwieterman's conclusion. When it comes to the invidiual patient accepting that health care isn't perfect and that not everything that goes wrong should be settled in court, I'm more skeptical. Tort reform and other health care changes are difficult to achieve when the lawyers tend to be on one side (the Democrats) and the insurance companies on the other (Republicans).

    The point is, what happens after the election? We're having the conversation, but where will it lead? And who can lead us to a solution when we the consumers are often the biggest obstacle to reform?

    posted by Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal at 2:19 PM



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