Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money…

This month's Provider takes a fresh look at the litigation tax. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.)

This month’s Provider takes a fresh look at the litigation tax. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Bill Myers

Washington, D.C.—Good morning, ProviderNation. The great glossy has arrived. Yes, for all you Millennials (and Robin Hillier), there was a time when you could actually hold magazines in your hands and turn the pages with your fingers. That’s the way it was, and we liked it. Anyway, Your Humble Correspondent has the cover and takes a long look at the litigation tax.

Few providers will be surprised at the findings, but it’s nonetheless worth whistling at how rapidly a few lawyers have turned a tiny niche of personal injury law into a well-oiled, money-making machine.

The veterans with whom I spoke are convinced that at least part of the problem lies in America’s fear of aging and death, and its sublimated guilt about the same. It’s notoriously not fun (or easy) to die of dementia or Parkinson’s or any other horrible disease. The plaintiffs’ bar has figured out that a few gory pictures, mixed with a compelling story—the Big, Evil Corporation that “Puts Profits Ahead of People”™ wouldn’t pay for the care that would have prevented This Awful Tragedy—and, well, just make the checks out to…

Serious Business

“They’ll advertise, they’ll gin up people’s feelings of guilt and remorse about their own families, and they will bring lawsuits,” Golden Living’s inestimable Paul Killeen tells me.

If that seems glib, just Google “nursing homes,” “profits before people,” and see what you get.

This is serious business, and there is little evidence to suggest that the plaintiffs’ blitzkrieg makes things better for anyone but the lawyers themselves.

The sense of desperation among some providers is palpable. A couple of weeks ago, when Publisher-For-Life Greg Crist gave a speech to a Chicago audience about how flacking works here in the decadent capital, the first question out of the gate was on whether the feds were likely to enact sweeping tort reform legislation. (Crist’s answer: “No.”)

Socialism And Torts

In their darkest moments, some providers refer to torts as a kind of socialism—a leveling mechanism whereby wealth is redistributed. So it’s interesting to note that one of the first things to go in socialized medicine is … torts.

And it’s perhaps a compounded irony that a great many companies from socialist countries, who have built up high-end product lines, are now hoping to come sell their wares here in the US of A. They have two concerns. One of them is competition. The other is torts.

“We hear all the horror stories,” a Danish official told Your Humble Correspondent back in February. “It’s definitely a risk.”

Bill Myers is Provider’s senior editor. Email him at Follow him on Twitter, @ProviderMyers.





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Filed under health care, Long term care, Post-acute care

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