Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ignoring the best available evidence

In his recent address to Congress, President Obama threw a bone to opponents of Obamacare by promising to set up a pilot program to look at the benefits of tort reform. There are reasons to believe that this was purely a political maneuver, used to give the appearance cooperation without any real intent to follow through. The administration has a track record of canning pilot programs, even when they are shown to be successful. The defunding of the popular D.C. school voucher program is an egregious example. In addition, Obama's promise to address tort reform by launching a pilot program is suspect because it doesn't acknowledge that we've already seen the results of such a pilot program:
Texas passed significant tort reform in 1995, and more reforms have been enacted since then. A 2008 study from the Perryman Group found that perhaps the most visible economic impact of the lawsuit reforms are the benefits experienced by Texans who have better access to high-quality healthcare. Doctors and hospitals are using their liability insurance savings to expand services and initiate innovative programs; those savings have allowed Texas hospitals to expand charity care by 24 percent.

The total impact of tort reforms implemented since 1995 includes gains of $112.5 billion in spending each year as well as almost 499,900 jobs in the state. The fiscal stimulus to the state from judicial reforms is almost a $2.6 billion per year increase in state revenue. In addition, these reforms are responsible for approximately 430,000 individuals having health insurance than would otherwise, and there has been an increase in the number of doctors, particularly in regions which have been facing severe shortages.

In his inaugural address, Obama promised not to let policy trump science, yet his track record has been the opposite. It's been his SOP to ignore the best available evidence and plow ahead with his agenda in spite of it. Indeed, the very principles of Obamacare have been tried and have failed in states like Maine and Massachusetts, yet he continues to insist that these ideas are sound.

It's an open question whether the president is ignorant, disingenuous, or plain stubborn, but it's become clear that he relies more on rhetoric than reality.

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