February 28, 2008

Ritter's Approaching "Health Care Quandary" May Lead to Butt Covering

Yesterday our fellow blogger highlighted Gov. Ritter's "health care quandary," as SB 164, a piece of legislation proposing to raise the amount of legal damages on doctors, moves forward. It is clear that signing this bill into law will certainly "drive the costs of health insurance higher and higher." Yet I don't think lining trial-lawyers' pockets was the kind of health-care reform Coloradans elected Ritter to enact.

Well, today the State Senate passed SB 164 by a single vote, pushing the costly proposal closer to the governor's desk. It still has to pass the House.

So the quandary remains: Will Ritter give in to the lawyers' lobby and sign the bill, or will he hold fast and work toward sensible solutions to hold down the cost of health insurance? Perhaps the governor can find inspiration from an elected member of his own party:
One of the most prominent Senate Democrat voices on health-care issues broke ranks with his party to criticize the measure. Sen. Bob Hagedorn, of Aurora, said the bill's likely effect of raising doctors' liability premiums would be only "the tip of the iceberg." Hagedorn said the bill also would lead to the practice of "defensive medicine"--duplicative tests that are not needed but serve to shield doctors from lawsuits.

"This is not necessarily better medical care, but it sure is more costly medical care," Hagedorn said. "Physicians will look for more ways to cover their butts."
If Ritter ends up signing SB 164, he may be busy covering his, too.

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