Civil Rights – N.S.A. Phone Data Collection Illegal

May 7, 2015

nsa, national security agency

For more than a decade this unconstitutional activity has been going on without any breaks. It is about time that the parts of the Patriot Act be given a thorough review by the lawmakers–some of whom voted for it in the first place without really reviewing it. This is a positive news!

A federal appeals court in New York on Thursday ruled that the once-secret National Security Agency program that is systematically collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal. The decision comes as a fight in Congress is intensifying over whether to end and replace the program, or to extend it.

In a 97-page ruling, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a provision of the USA Patriot Act permitting the Federal Bureau of Investigation to collect business records deemed relevant to a counterterrorism investigation cannot be legitimately interpreted to permit the systematic bulk collection of domestic calling records.

The ruling was certain to increase the tension that has been building in Congress because the provision of the Patriot Act that has been cited to justify the bulk data collection program will expire in June unless lawmakers pass a bill to extend it.

via N.S.A. Phone Data Collection Illegal, Appeals Court Rules – NYTimes.com.

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Tort Reform – A Busted Myth

March 2, 2015

tort reform definition

Tort Reform: A definition

Most of us who practice tort law on the victim’s side have been saying this for years only to be faced with deaf politician ears who, on behalf of their deep pocketed masters, continued to spew the myth of Tort Reform. It is time to face reality and stop actively hurting the victims of medical negligence and instead focus on ways by which to reduce the numbers of medical malpractice cases by providing incentives to medical providers to engage in safe and negligent free medical treatment.

The second greatest trick may be the insurance industry’s success in getting more than half the states to implement “tort reform.” That achievement was based on the promise that restricting victims’ ability to bring medical malpractice suits would improve healthcare and reduce its cost. Those myths have now been completely dispelled.

The last bubble to burst was that because doctors are fearful of getting sued, they practice “defensive medicine,” prescribing unnecessary and costly tests and procedures. That myth was dispatched by the recent publication of a major study in the New England Journal of Medicine. A team of five doctors and public health experts found that tort reform measures passed in three states – specifically designed to insulate emergency room doctors from lawsuits — did nothing to reduce the number of expensive tests and procedures those ER doctors prescribed.

This latest study follows numerous others that deflated other tort reform myths: that making it harder for victims to file medical malpractice lawsuits would reduce the number of “frivolous” suits that “clog the courts;” that imposing caps on the damages victims could receive would reign in “out of control” juries that were awarding lottery-size sums to plaintiffs; and that malpractice insurance premiums would fall, thereby reversing a doctor shortage caused by specialists “fleeing the profession.”

via On Tort Reform, It’s Time to Declare Victory and Withdraw – Forbes.

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Tort Reform – Study Shows Savings Are Mythical

September 22, 2014

Tort Reform

Tort Reform

The idea that Tort Reform was going to have any effect on the cost of American Health Care system has been shown time and time again to be nothing but a myth. Tort Reform has been, and continues to be an effort to prevent victims of medical negligence to seek reasonable compensation for their injuries and the cost of dealing with those injuries in the past, present and more importantly the future. It stands to reason that the Insurance Industry gains but limiting recoveries and even reducing verdicts–never mind that a verdict in favor of a plaintiff is by definition evidence that the case just tried was not frivolous!–after a jury has deliberated on the evidence presented.

Tort reform,” which is usually billed as the answer to “frivolous malpractice lawsuits,” has been a central plank in the Republican program for healthcare reform for decades.

The notion has lived on despite copious evidence that that the so-called defensive medicine practiced by doctors merely to stave off lawsuits accounts for, at best, 2% to 3% of U.S. healthcare costs. As for “frivolous lawsuits,” they’re a problem that exists mostly in the minds of conservatives and the medical establishment.

A new study led by Michael B. Rothberg of the Cleveland Clinic and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association aimed to measure how much defensive medicine there is, really, and how much it costs. The researchers’ conclusion is that defensive medicine accounts for about 2.9% of healthcare spending. In other words, out of the estimated $2.7-trillion U.S. healthcare bill, defensive medicine accounts for $78 billion.

As Aaron Carroll observes at the AcademyHealth blog, $78 billion is “not chump change … but it’s still a very small component of overall health care spending.” Any “tort reform” stringent enough to make that go away would likely create other costs, such as a rise in medical mistakes generated by the elimination of the oversight exercised by the court system.

Since it doesn’t appear that “tort reform” would have any effect on this spending, Carroll says, “there seems little reason to pursue it as a means to dramatically reduce health care spending in the United States.”

via New study shows that the savings from ‘tort reform’ are mythical – LA Times.

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Insurance – Healthcare – New Study Shows Health Insurance Premium Spikes in Every State

December 6, 2011

Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance have risen faster than incomes in every state in the nation, according to a report released Thursday.

The analysis of federal data by the Commonwealth Fund, an independent research organization, shed new light on the state-by-state picture while essentially confirming a national trend, highlighted in other recent surveys of employer-sponsored insurance, of greater premiums for skimpier benefits.

The District of Columbia had the highest annual total premiums, including both the employer’s and the worker’s share. In 2010, they averaged $5,644 for a single policy and $15,206 for a family version — a rise of 51 percent and 41 percent, respectively, since 2003.

But the costs were significant even in states with some of the lowest average rates, such as Alabama, where a single policy averaged $4,571 in total premiums and a family version reached $12,409. Maryland and Virginia were roughly in the middle of the pack.

“Although employees typically don’t see the total cost of their insurance, the sharp increase, in effect, means lower wages and salaries as employers make the trade-off between increasing wages and offering insurance,” said Cathy Schoen, a co-author of the study.

via New study shows health insurance premium spikes in every state – The Washington Post.

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Goliath Does Not Need Any Help

May 18, 2010

Changes in Personal Injuries | Articles Directory – Submit Articles Free

If after David beat Goliath the government decreed that henceforth when people fight giants, they must do so with six-inch sling shots and pebbles instead of rocks, there would be a huge outcry of protest. However, the changes that are being imbedded in our legal system in the name of tort reform are attempting to do the same thing.

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Tort Costs Are Greatly Exagerated

January 28, 2010

Americans for Insurance Reform

NEW YORK – A major new analysis released today by Americans for Insurance Reform (AIR) finds that a recent claim by the insurance consulting firm Towers Perrin (now called Towers Watson) that the U.S. tort system costs $254.7 billion is highly exaggerated and misleading, based on unverifiable and flawed work, and is completely inappropriate for evaluating the U.S. tort system. Even with all of its flaws and padded numbers, the Towers Perrin report, 2009 Update on U.S. Tort Cost Trends, still finds that tort system costs are growing slower than medical inflation, that medical malpractice trends are completely stable, that the U.S. tort cost environment is “relatively benign,” and that costs are less today, compared to GDP, than they were in 1983.

AIR’s critique, Towers Perrin: “Grade F” For Fantastically Inflated “Tort Cost” Report, is co-written by actuary J. Robert Hunter, Director of Insurance for the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), former Commissioner of Insurance for the State of Texas, and former Federal Insurance Administrator under Presidents Carter and Ford; and by Joanne Doroshow, Executive Director of the Center for Justice & Democracy.

Co-author J. Robert Hunter said, “It is really past time for Towers to stop publishing such flawed data year after year. The fact that they persist despite criticism after criticism shows a deep distain for fair and accurate presentation of facts.”

Joanne Doroshow said, “Even with all of its faults, which are extensive, the Towers Perrin report gives no credence whatsoever to any notion that tort costs are out of line, particularly medical malpractice costs. Policymakers and opinion leaders should be extremely wary of how this document is used, because it is routinely presented in a misleading manner by corporate lobbyists who seek to weaken the tort system and limit consumers’ legal rights against corporate wrongdoing, so-called ‘tort reform.’ Fear-mongering is typical, for example, as taxpayers are often misled to believe they are paying these inflated costs in the form of a ‘tort tax’ or ‘litigation tax.’ Yet the Towers Perrin report provides absolutely no support for such a contention, nor for the insurance industry’s ‘tort reform’ agenda.”

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Tort Reform Gives Bad Doctors a License To Kill.

January 26, 2010

License to kill | kill, license

Tort law defines what a legal injury is and establishes liability. All tort reform limits the circumstances under which injured people may sue and limits how much a jury may award the injured.

Is tort reform good or bad? That depends on who benefits and who loses out. It benefits the insurance companies in a big way. It benefits for-profit hospitals and clinics. It hasn’t reduced our medical bills.

The big loser is the patient who is injured or killed by bad medical practice. Tort reform makes Florida’s health care system less safe and effective. It limits victims’ access to the courts and costs taxpayers money in order to care for injured victims. If you’re injured by bad medical practice, you will have a near-impossible time finding a lawyer who will represent you because of the 2004 Florida tort reform. It effectively gives bad doctors a license to kill.

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Stop Blaming The Trial Lawyers… We Are On Your Side.

January 17, 2010

Call for tort reform obscures the real issue» Evansville Courier & Press

I am tired of scapegoating lawyers in general, and trial lawyers in particular, and it is one reason why I now call myself a Reagan conservative rather than a Republican.

Health care now absorbs almost 20 percent of our gross domestic product, which creates a hidden and growing tax on the American consumer. However, the best that the Republican Party and other conservative groups can do is to promote tort reform as its principal response to the health care dilemma.

On the one hand, conservative groups bemoan national solutions to state, economic or business problems, and yet do not comprehend that national legislation to control state courts is anathema to the Constitution. It violates the Constitutional principle that rights not granted to the federal government have been reserved to the states, and it undermines the concept of federalism.

So-called “tort reform” will usurp the legal rights of citizens when access to the courts provides the only means of redress against a large and malevolent federal government and powerful business interests.

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