March 12, 2009

Damage caps protect payers

I oppose the bills before the Assembly that would eliminate the cap on "pain and suffering" awards in medical malpractice lawsuits ("Attack of the trial lawyers," editorial, Feb. 17).

I am a small business owner who provides my employees complete health care insurance. That's a significant cost, but it's important to provide good benefits to attract and keep quality employees.

I have looked closely at these bills, and I don't see how they would reduce my costs or improve the quality of care for my employees.

I do see how removing the cap will fuel the tort-law industry; I don't see how that helps me or my employees. In fact, any added malpractice award would be paid for by increasing the cost of health care and of physicians' liability insurance premiums.

The net effect would be increased health care insurance premiums for everyone. Where does that money come from? It comes from me, the small business owner.

In addition, I am not in favor of such damage awards in principle.

Life is a risk. Things can and do go wrong.

In the complexity of medical diagnosis and treatment, people can suffer harm that might be preventable. But it is often difficult or impossible to know if this harm is an act of God or the result of medical malpractice.

Increasing the medical malpractice cap would only make it more profitable to debate such issues in court.

This would increase lawyers' fees, and the lawyers would be the only ones who would truly benefit.

Nancy Hoyt, Severna Park

Single-payer plans the only solution

As recent Baltimore Sun articles have mentioned ("Health care plan outlined," March 5), both the federal and state governments are attempting to grapple with the health care crisis. However, only one solution, single-payer universal health care ("Medicare for All"), would be truly universal and comprehensive for all.

Under such a system, coverage would not be tied to employment and the private care delivery system would remain intact.

Patients would be free to seek care from any licensed health care provider without financial penalties. Furthermore, U.S. health care costs, currently the highest in the world, would drop significantly as the huge profits and administrative costs of the insurance industry are eliminated.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. has introduced a single-payer bill in Congress, and there is also a single-payer bill before the General Assembly.

Other approaches, such as mandating purchase of insurance from private companies, would merely be giveaways to the insurance industry, would not cover everyone and could be fiscally irresponsible.

Ted Weber, Annapolis

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