Thursday, August 05, 2004

WSJ Shows Bias in Report on Grand Rapids Town Hall Meeting

Leave it to the Walll Street Journal, well known for promoting the Republican agenda, to report inaccurately on the town hall meeting I attended in Grand Rapids on Monday:
(,,SB109166315030783420,00.html). While I pointed out that many doctors are asking about John Kerry's health care proposals and asked Senator Kerry to discuss this issue, the WSJ twists this to report that "At a recent town-hall meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich., a doctor told John Kerry that many physicians oppose the Democratic presidential candidate because they think he wouldn't curb costly medical-malpractice lawsuits." The article also does a poor job of reporting on Senator Kerry's response, which was strongly in support of resolving the malpractice problem, and goes on to repeat the usual GOP talking points. The question was clearly posed as coming from members of Doctors for Kerry, and not as a criticism of Kerry's positions, as claimed by the Wall Street Journal.

It took a bit of will power in my response to refrain from pointing out the inaccuracies in the article, believing that chances for publication would be better if I limited it to discussing physician support for John Kerry. In discussing this with campaign headquarters, it was pointed out that "even if the WSJ doesn't print your letter, you at least were able to raise the issue in a way that created a small ripple at the national level. I suspect Kerry and Edwards will be talking more about medical-malpractice reform as the fall goes on, since it's an important part of their health care plan."

Following is the letter I sent to the Wall Street Journal in response to this article:

Letters to the Editor
The Wall Street Journal
200 Liberty Street
New York, N.Y. 10281

August 5, 2004

To the editor:

I had the opportunity to ask Senator John Kerry about his proposals for malpractice reform at a town hall meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Monday, as reported by Robert Greenberger in today's Wall Street Journal. While there are some doctors who oppose John Kerry due to misconceptions about John Edwards' record on malpractice, many physicians do realize that the health care proposals from Senators Kerry and Edwards are preferable to those of President Bush, including their proposals on malpractice reform.

When Democrats have voted against Republican proposals on malpractice reform, it has been because the proposals would be ineffective, and would unfairly penalize those who have suffered legitimate damages. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that the caps proposed by President Bush would reduce malpractice premiums by less than half of one percent (0.4%), which would not offer doctors any meaningful relief.

I was pleased that my question at the Grand Rapids town hall meeting gave Senator Kerry the opportunity to discuss his proposed solutions for the malpractice crisis. While President Bush's plans offer little help for physicians, I am for more impressed with John Kerry's proposals These include encouraging arbitration rather than use of the legal system, elimination of most punitive awards (which are responsible for many of the large malpractice settlements), and efforts to reduce frivolous suits. When a nonpartisan group evaluated the health care proposals of all Presidential candidates last year for The National Journal, John Kerry's proposals on malpractice reform out scored those of George Bush in terms of reducing the malpractice burden on physicians.

John Edwards has also been a strong proponent of malpractice reform while in public life, including proposing a "three strikes and you're out" policy to prevent attorneys from repeatedly filing frivolous suits. While political opponents have tried to use Edwards' career as a trial lawyer against him, reviews of his cases by medical experts have shown that he took care to only pursue cases with real and significant damages.

John Edwards has also pointed out the role of malpractice insurance carriers in the malpractice crisis, as premiums often rise independent of actual costs to defend suits and pay on claims. As John Kerry noted at the town hall meeting in Grand Rapids, John Edwards can be valuable in assisting Kerry in devising a fair and meaningful solution to the malpractice crisis. Just as only Nixon could go to China, perhaps John Edwards is in the best position to devise a fair solution which could be sold to both trial lawyers and physicians.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

But what about this?

10:32 AM  
Blogger Ron Chusid said...

What about it? They are a bunch of people with a history of doing dirty tricks for the GOP. Those who actually served with Kerry are generally supporting him, regardless of party affiliation.

12:30 PM  

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