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Cavuto More Interested In Tort Reform Than Improved Health Care

Reported by Ellen - September 30, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Brian

Neil Cavuto is so intent on limiting monetary awards for malpractice lawyers (isn’t he the guy who thinks it’s important not to limit someone’s earnings ability?) that he suggested trial lawyers be fined $25,000 for every American who refuses to buy health insurance. Notably absent from Cavuto’s suggestion were any thoughts about increasing coverage for the uninsured, lowering medical costs for the rest of us or improving care for all. With video.

Cavuto asked guest Nancy Skinner Monday (9/28/09) about a rumored proposal to fine the uninsured $25,000 or a year in jail if they don't buy health insurance. Cavuto showed no interest in whether this would help make sure that all Americans are covered. Instead, he obsessed on whether or not Americans would have elected President Obama had they known about this. Cavuto asked, "Nancy, …I’m sure had the President said early on, ‘if you don't participate in this plan, we’re going to sock you with a fine, and (if) you don't pay that fine, you’re going to go to prison,’ none of these people who, by the way mostly are young, would've elected the guy." (Comment: What poll did Cavuto take?)

Skinner replied, "The sky is falling, Neil This has been so grossly exaggerated what they're saying here."

"What's been grossly exaggerated, Nancy?," Cavuto responded. "This Democratic staffer said you don't play, you pay. Tell me where I got it wrong." Comment: Here's one thing: it was not a Democratic staffer who said that, it was the Joint Committee on Taxation Chief of Staff Tom Barthold.

Skinner said, "No, I will tell you what, you just exaggerated. …First of all, it’s a law… If you can't afford health insurance, there’ll be tax credits and/or a hardship waiver. This is for people who choose to say, ‘I’m going to break this law.' …The government of course has to have some penalty. It’s like when you run a red light."

"If we’re gonna spend so much time potentially hitting someone with a $25,000 fine and/or jail if they don’t go along, would it kill us to then go to the trial lawyers and take $25,000 off whatever they're going to get winning a medical lawsuit?" Comment: what does that have to do with increasing coverage?

Skinner laughed. "I don't know if you can make it tit for tat."

Suddenly, Cavuto was a fan of government interference with people making a legal living (pun intended). "I'm saying we're spending a lot more time going after individuals who might not want to play along here, than we are with trial lawyers who enrich themselves definitely playing along, gunning a system that richly rewards them and not patients."

Skinner noted that the Democrats plan to experiment with tort reform in some states. But, she added,"Studies show that the reason medical malpractice insurance has gone up is because of insurance companies, not because of frivolous lawsuits." Comment: She’s at least partially correct. But as Barbara O'Brien pointed out in an article on AlterNet, while there’s evidence that tort reform helps reduce premiums for doctors and has helped some states attract more physicians, there is also evidence that tort reform does nothing to lower medical costs for patients. And, of course, it’s not designed to do anything to improve health care.

Cavuto interrupted excitedly. "Nancy, I’m telling you this, I’m telling you this, I’m TELLING YOU THIS! Nancy, looook at meeee… If you were to tell people early on in the health care debate, when Barack Obama was campaigning for president… that 'Look, if you don't go along with our plan, and you balk at paying for membership in this plan when you can well afford it, we’re going to drag your a** to jail, and we’re going to fine you while we’re at it, what do you think would be the reaction they'd get?"

“Who says they're going to do both a fine and jail?" Skinner asked.

Cavuto said the reaction would be, "YOU'RE CRAZY!"

Skinner pointed out, "Everybody's paying a hidden tax of $1000 right now."

Cavuto went on to claim that if “everything was above board,” meaning that if all the terms of the health care plan had been previously disclosed (even though they haven’t been finalized), “there wouldn’t have been these town hall rallies. Because we would have known the lie ahead of time.”

That's such a ridiculous claim, we have to consider it media malpractice.:)