Durbin: If You Think Government Health Care Is A Socialist Plot Drop Out Of The Federal Employees Health Benefit Program

During the Health Care Summit Dick Durbin whacked the Republicans for their lies about the cost of medical malpractice with their cries for tort refor
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During the Health Care Summit Dick Durbin whacked the Republicans for their lies about the cost of medical malpractice with their cries for tort reform and for their fear mongering over calling the Democrats' health care plan some sort of evil socialist plot to destroy America. It would be nice to hear this sort of talk out of them more often. From Sen. Durbin's web site:

DURBIN: Step back for a second and look at who we are in this room. As

was said many years ago, the law in its majestic equality forbids both the wealthy and the poor from sleeping under bridges. When it comes to the wealthy in health care per capita, we're the wealthiest people in America. the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program administered by the federal government, setting minimum standards for the health insurance that we enjoy as individuals and want for our families, is all we're asking for in this bill for families across America.

If you think it's a socialist plot and it's wrong, for goodness

sakes drop out of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. But

if you think it's good enough for your family, shouldn't our health

insurance be good enough for the rest of America? That's what it gets

down to. Why have this double standard?

Transcript below the fold.

DURBIN: Mr. President, I've been biding my time throughout this

entire meeting. I thank you for inviting us on the issue of medical

malpractice. Before I was elected to Congress, I worked in a

courtroom. For years, I defended doctors and hospitals, and for years

I sued them on behalf of people who were victims of medical

malpractice. So I've sat at both tables in a courtroom. At least

many years ago, I think I kind of understood this area of the law

better than some.

But I listen time and again as our friends on the other side when

they're asked what are the most important things you can do when it

comes to our health care system in America. The first thing they say

is medical malpractice. It's the first thing they say. Today, it was

the first thing that was said.

The point that's been made by the president is if we do believe

the Congressional Budget Office, when Orrin Hatch asked them how much

will we save if we implement the Republican plan on medical

malpractice from the House, they said $54 billion over 10 years; $5.4

billion a year is a lot of money, except in the context of the $2.5

trillion bill that we pay each year for health care. It represents

one-fifth of 1 percent of the amount of money we spend each year on

health care.

The Congressional Budget Office said something else. They said

and as you lose accountability for what the doctors and hospitals are

doing, more people will die -- 4,800 a year, according to the

Congressional Budget Office's reference to this study.

Now, the Institute of Medicine tells us 98,000 people a year die

in America because of medical malpractice. I think there are things

that we have put in this bill to change that. Most of you have heard

of this Dr. Gawande. We've read him. I've talked to him on the

phone. His "Checklist Manifesto" is a very basic approach to reducing

medical errors, which is what we should be focused on.

And I want to say, Mr. President, I think what you and the

secretary have done is the right thing -- incentivizing states to find

innovative ways to reduce medical errors and reduce those lawsuits

that should not be filed.

But let me tell you what, limiting the recovery for pain and

suffering for someone who is entitled -- entitled because they're

innocent victims -- to be paid isn't eliminating junk lawsuits. I

will tell you that as far as the president is concerned, in his

neighborhood there is a great hospital, which I will not name, and at

this hospital a woman went in for a simple removal of a mole from her

face. And under general anesthesia, the oxygen caught fire, burning

her face. She went through repeated surgeries, scars and deformity.

Her life will never be the same. And you are saying that this

innocent woman is only entitled to $250,000 in pain and suffering.

I don't think it's fair. Our jury system makes that decision,

and the states, 30 of them have made a decision on what to do. If you

were asked a basic question: Over the last 20 years, has the number

of paid malpractice claims in America doubled or been cut in half? If

you listen to most people here, you'd say it must have doubled. No.

According to the Kaiser Foundation, they've been cut in half.

Oh, but how much -- how about the money that's being paid for

these malpractice claims? Clearly, that's gone through the roof. No.

Between 2003 and 2008, the total amount paid for malpractice claims in America was cut in half from $8 billion to $4 billion.

This is an important issue. I don't dispute it and I think we

have treated it as an important issue. But to make it the overriding

issue is to, I think, really trivialize some of the other things that

should be part of this conversation.

I've been asked to speak about deficit reduction. I will not,

other than to say one general thing. When I hear my friend John

Boehner say that we have the best health care in the world, I don't

dispute it for a moment. If I were sick, this is the country I want

to be in, with these doctors, these hospitals, and these medical

professionals.

Step back for a second and look at who we are in this room. As

was said many years ago, the law in its majestic equality forbids both the wealthy and the poor from sleeping under bridges. When it comes to the wealthy in health care per capita, we're the wealthiest people in America. the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program administered by the federal government, setting minimum standards for the health insurance that we enjoy as individuals and want for our families, is all we're asking for in this bill for families across America.

If you think it's a socialist plot and it's wrong, for goodness

sakes drop out of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. But

if you think it's good enough for your family, shouldn't our health

insurance be good enough for the rest of America? That's what it gets

down to. Why have this double standard?

Tom Harkin is right. Why do we continue to discriminate against

people when we know that each one of us is only one accident or one

diagnosis away from being one of those unfortunate few who can't

afford or can't find health insurance.

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