Note today's headline in the Washington Post: "Ehrlich Vetoes Malpractice Reform Bill" This headline says it all, since the Republicans are now resisting malpratice reforms even though, as the story notes, "The Maryland State Medical Society, which represents more than 7,000 doctors, and the Maryland Hospital Association, which represents about 50 facilities, had urged Ehrlich to allow the bill to become law." In other words, we're the party trying to help doctors, and they're the party stubbornly sticking to their stupid proposal, which punishes only the most deserving cases, and which at best indirectly addresses the problem of malpractice premiums while allowing insurance companies to keep premiums high and pocket the lawsuit savings if that's what they choose to do. Even worse, many Republican proposals are designed to funnel cases into federal courts, even though these same Republicans have spent years and years trying to convince people that the federal courts ought to butt out of the states' business. In other words, their marching principle on "tort reform" is: State courts, good enough for the death penalty, but not good enough for tort cases. It really is the height of hypocrisy.
Democrats need to steal back the mantle of reform on a host of issues like this, since we are the natural reform party anyway. Republican "reform" proposals like "tort reform" are generally born from manufactured crises, which never include a study of the actual problem and its causes, and the solutions are generally cynical, lousy policy ideas, designed to throw bones to their corporate cronies. We can do better and the Maryland Democrats have. As they showed, we're the only party that actually gives a damn about whether family doctors can stay in business. And, unlike the Republicans, we don't give a damn whether the insurance companies like our policies. Not that we should be anti-insurance companies, but a little public oversight is always a good thing for any industry, as Teddy Roosevelt showed us long ago. The good companies will welcome the scrutiny and prosper anyway, the bad ones will be rightly burned by the sunlight, and doctors and patients will be the big winners. The Maryland Dems are apparently going to override the veto and make this bill law. We should follow their lead nationally.