Saturday, May 07, 2005

Michael: GOP's Inconsistent Positions on Med Mal Caps and UA Med School Expansion

The Arizona GOP still seeks ineffective Med Mal compensation caps as a panacea for rising medical costs and inadequate physician supply. Arizona Capital Media reports that GOP lawmakers are going to attempt to place a Med Mal compensation cap on the ballot in 2006. Republicans claim that ‘reform’ is needed to contain medical costs, despite the failure of compensation caps to reduce medical costs, or even slow inflation below the national average in any state adopting these draconian anti-patient ‘reforms’. Some also indicate that Med Mal caps will help retain physicians in the state who might be driven out of the market by usuriously high Med Mal premiums (though oddly you will NEVER hear a Republican advocate regulating Med Mal insurers – they only advocate legally limiting the contractual obligations of those insurers so they can make more money, which is the invariable result of compensation caps).

Despite these false and misleading claims about compensation caps, the simple fact is that Republicans supporting these ‘reforms’ have no interest in strengthening medical care for Arizona’s citizens. Only Med Mal insurers’ bottom lines are helped by compensation caps, nobody else is, certainly not consumers.

The fundamental disinterest of the GOP in providing quality medical care to Arizona’s citizens is clearly demonstrated by the on-going fight to secure funding for an extension of the U of A Medical School to a new campus in Phoenix. Three GOP controlled legislative committees refused to fund the Governor’s program, despite the support of the medical community and the demonstrable need for expanded capacity in Arizona to train new physicians. The very slight startup costs achieved by the extension’s planners would cost effectively expand the future pool of Arizona based doctors.

If GOP politicians were serious about addressing the medical needs of Arizona’s citizens, they would have leapt at the chance to expand the medical school. Instead, they dug in their heels against the proposal, which has been slowed down by the two-tier funding structure GOP budget negotiators extracted in the budget negotiation. So, a few years from now, should you be unable to be awarded by a jury the full and reasonable cost of taking care of a loved one harmed by a negligent doctor, you will have the GOP to thank. When you are able to find a qualified specialist physician you need in your community, you can thank Governor Napolitano for making a new medical school in Arizona a top priority. Arizona’s Neo-Cons clearly value the interests of big insurance companies’ needs over yours, whereas Janet values what all decent folk value, Arizona citizens’ health and well-being.

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