The Washington Times - July 27, 2009, 06:26PM


Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky talked about the high costs of health care today. In particular, Mr. McConnell pointed out how malpractice lawsuits affect how expensive healthcare can become. Dr. Orrin Devinsky, NYU Langone Medical Center neurologist and researcher agrees with Senator McConnell.  Dr. Devinsky told the Washington Times,:


“By some calculations forty-five to well over fifty percent of the money paid for malpractice actually goes to lawyers and administrators not to the patients. The large percentage of malpractice suits when reviewed independently of doctors and lawyers are felt not to be justified and many people who are wronged don’t ever get malpractice reimbursement. And that’s just the cost of malpractice directly. There is the indirect costs of doctors ordering more tests to cover themselves. Hospitals doing things to cover themselves against the potential for liability, and those add tremendously to the medical costs. I think there are a lot of things that can be done to reform the system and improve it to make it more efficient. I think I would go slow in really trying to limit excellent care.”

A fan of President Barack Obama, Dr. Devinsky had a brief exchange with the Mr. Obama last month on the quality of American healthcare between those who are politically powerful and other Americans. (video):

Dr. Devinsky: If your wife or your daughter became seriously ill, and things were not going well, and the plan physicians told you they were doing everything that could be done, and you sought out opinions from some medical leaders in major centers and they said there’s another option you should pursue, but it was not covered in the plan, would you potentially sacrifice the health of your family for the greater good of insuring millions or would you do everything you possibly could as a father and husband to get the best health care and outcome for your family? 

President Obama:Well, first of all, Doctor, I think it’s a terrific question, and it’s something that touches us all personally, especially when you start talking about end-of-life care.  As some of you know, my grandmother recently passed away, which was a very painful thing for me. She’s somebody who helped raise me.  But she’s somebody who contracted what was diagnosed as terminal cancer. There was unanimity about that. They expected that she’d have six to nine months to live. She fell and broke her hip. And then the question was, does she get hip replacement surgery, even though she wasfragile enough that they weren’t sure how long she would last, whether she could get through the surgery.  I think families all across America are going through decisions like that all the time. And you’re absolutely right that, if it’s my familymember, it’s my wife, if it’s my children, if it’s my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care.But here’s the problem that we have in our current health care system, is that there is a whole bunch of care that’s being provided that every study, every bit of evidence that we have indicates may not be making us healthier.

Dr. Devinsky told the Washington Times the motivation for his question came from an experience he had as a young doctor over twenty-five years ago.:

“One of my senior doctors pointed out a basic hypocrisy that had occurred in Washington.  There was a  movement before, where people were pushing (it’s still happening now) for a significant increase in primary care physicians, support individuals, physicians assistants, and nurse practitioners, which I fully support.  Part of the motivation to do that, they were strongly suggesting (the politicians) that they reduce government support for hospitals that provide specialty training.

So, it turned out that one famous politician had a child that had cancer, and one of my senior physicians tracked down a team of doctors that took care of that that politician, and that was one of the politicians who was advocating for health care reform. [The politician] was advocating for limiting  government reimbursement to hospitals for specialty training, and the number of years post graduate medical education for the team of doctors cared for by that politician’s son was over 100 years.  So here’s this person arguing in the Capitol…in the Senate…that we should limit government support for sub-specialty training and yet when that politician’s child got ill, this was 25 years ago or more, he sought the most expert team with the most sub-specialty training imaginable, and I think it speaks to one of the essential issues in health care.  I think that continues to go on.  I think for every member of congress…for the president.  They know that because of who they are, and where they are in the political world, they will be able to secure the best health care for themselves and for their families, which I’m not against.  What I’m also supportive of is that my patients get access to the same type of care.”

The NYU neurologist pointed out his question was addressing those in Congress more than anything else.  Dr.  Devinsky is not alone in his hope. House Resolution 615 proposed by Republican Congressman John Fleming of Louisiana says:

“Members who vote in favor of the establishment of a public, federal government run health insurance option are urged to forgo their right to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and agree to enroll under that public option.”

Plenty must be done to reform healthcare to bring down costs, but those on the hill have to let go of the malpractice suit loving trial lawyers who butter the bread of the liberal politician first.  Furthermore, if pols are not wiling to take the medicine they force down the throats of their constituents, then their prescription is obviously poison.