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The secret plan

By Keith D. Cummings
web posted October 11, 2004

In last weeks' debate in Cleveland, Senator John Edwards admonished the vice-president for failing to "be straight with the America people," while promising plans from the Kerry/Edwards ticket to solve just about everything from the war on terror to the alleged healthcare crisis in America. What Mr. Edwards failed to do was explain to the American people what those plans entail and who's responsible for the problems to begin with.

Since many people will discuss the Kerry/Edwards position on the war in great detail, let's focus on the left's favorite crisis: healthcare in America. According to John Kerry, there is a crisis of healthcare in this country and he's ready to spend trillions of dollars fixing it. There is a problem with healthcare in this country, but John Kerry's plan won't fix it. That's because John Kerry's running mate got rich by helping to create it.

Around the country, from large cities to small towns, communities are seeing experienced and capable obstetricians leave practice because skyrocketing insurance costs are simply forcing them out of business. According to the Pennsylvania Medical Society, physician claims have "skyrocketed" from $167 million in 1991 to $404 million in 2001. People like Dr. Wayne White of Camp Hill Pennsylvania are forced to stop delivering babies because the cost of insurance and the danger of lawsuits are simply too high.

According to studies over the last several years by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Association of Pediatrics and Dr. Ashraf Fouda of Domiatte General Hospital in Egypt, there is absolutely no link between problems with delivery and incidence of Cerebral Palsy in children. In fact, Dr. Fouda reports that the rate of CP in children is nearly identical in developed and underdeveloped countries.

The facts don't stand in the way of trial attorneys, however. A Google search with the four terms "malpractice cerebral palsy attorney" yielded a whopping 41,500 results. These are mostly websites of personal injury attorneys who claim to be able to help prosecute malpractice cases for cerebral palsy.

John EdwardsJohn Edwards, the knight in shining armor who has a plan to solve the healthcare crisis in America, has secured $33.9 million dollars in awards to people whose children have suffered CP as a result of medical malpractice. Since, according to Dr. Fouda, 2 in every 1,000 births result in children with CP, and less than 1 per cent of all CP sufferers are involved in anything but a "normal" delivery, that John Edwards managed find the four victims in 200,000 births with complications is miraculous in itself. That he secured nearly $34 million, including one award for $23.25 million is phenomenal. What Mr. Edwards did with his $11 million share of the verdicts is unclear.

What is clear is that John Edwards is a trial attorney, and his loyalty remains to the trial attorneys above all else. If we're to expect that he's going to lower healthcare costs, we have to ask how he plans to do it. He's opposed to caps on malpractice awards on the grounds that such caps simply open the door to negligence. OK, John, that sounds reasonable. Why can't we institute a "loser pays" system? If, as Edwards and the trial lawyers claim, high verdicts keep doctors and corporations honest, wouldn't a loser pays system keep trial lawyers honest? Of course it would, which is why Kerry, Edwards and the trial lawyers oppose it.

No one, right or left, is claiming that there aren't real cases of negligence. However, trial lawyers and John Edwards expect everyone else to be perfect, while they go their merry way, filing frivolous suit after frivolous suit. In the SNL spoof commercial for First Citywide, the bank that only makes change, a customer asks how they make money? The answer: volume.

Trial lawyers succeed on the concept of volume. They know that most of their lawsuits will not bear fruit. They know, like John Edwards, that they only need one gullible jury to put millions in their own pocket and increase costs for the rest of us. The Kerry/Edwards ticket is like a trial lawyer's office. They know they don't have anything of value; they just keep hoping that one good case will set them for life.

Keith D. Cummings is the author of Opening Bell, a political / financial thriller. His website can be found at http://www.keith-cummings.com.

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