ObamaCare Today: Medical Malpractice, Taxing Benefits, Socialism

What’s happening on the road to nationalized health care?

The American Medical Association has long battled Democrats who oppose protecting doctors from malpractice lawsuits. But during a private meeting at the White House last month, association officials said, they found one Democrat willing to entertain the idea: President Obama.

In closed-door talks, Mr. Obama has been making the case that reducing malpractice lawsuits — a goal of many doctors and Republicans — can help drive down health care costs, and should be considered as part of any health care overhaul, according to lawmakers of both parties, as well as A.M.A. officials.

It is a position that could hurt Mr. Obama with the left wing of his party and with trial lawyers who are major donors to Democratic campaigns. But one Democrat close to the president said Mr. Obama, who wants health legislation to have broad support, views addressing medical liability issues as a “credibility builder” — in effect, a bargaining chip that might keep doctors and, more important, Republicans, at the negotiating table.

There is no doubt that there needs to be some change in the medical system to reduce costs, and reducing the frivolous malpractice suits against doctors and medical outfits could certainly reduce costs. But, with a Democrat Congress, beholden to trial lawyers, among others, it’ll never happen. They might string the AMA along to get their backing, but any real reform will be dropped, perhaps at the last minute.

The White House is caught in a battle within its own party over how to finance a comprehensive overhaul of America’s health-care system, as key Democrats advocate a tax plan that could require President Obama to break his campaign pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class.

Some leading Democrats, like Dick Durbin and Chris Dodd, not actually paragons of virtue, are against the taxes. Others, like Max Baucus, are for it, and will submit legislation. So, I wonder if they can explain how health care costs will decrease when they raise taxes?

In recent days, Obama has revived a tax plan he first offered in February: limiting itemized deductionsfor the nation’s 3 million highest earners. Polls show that the idea is popular — it was Obama’s biggest applause line last week at an event in Wisconsin — and it would enable him to abide by a campaign pledge to pay for coverage for the uninsured with new taxes on the rich.

“He believes this is the most equitable way to do this,” said senior White House strategist David Axelrod. “It places the burden on people who can most afford it.”

Remember the furor over the Joe The Plumber response? How Obama’s answer wasn’t what he meant, and people were reading too much in to it? How the media, and government entities, went after Joe for simply asking a question? Interesting that we have Axelrod speaking for Obama in saying “yes, we are going to redistribute wealth.” And don’t forget the old Democrat saying “If you get a paycheck, you’re rich.”

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove

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