Rep. Bill Pascrell: I Don’t Know About Tort Reform

If New Jersey politics isn’t bad enough, try getting a feel for one of the most liberal Congressional Disctricts in the state. I was quite surprised when I learned that Rep. Bill Pascrell, Congressman of my very blue hometown, would be holding a town hall meeting on the Democrats’ contentious health care bill, as if to portray that a) he actually cared to address the concerns of his constituents, and b) he was ready and willing to defend the bill against its opponents. As it turns out, neither one seemed to be true.

To be fair, the crowd didn’t exactly display the height of civility. With shouting, boos, and applause coming both sides of the ideological spectrum, it was heard to make out both the questions and the answers made. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been out of the country for the past and missed the details of the other town halls, but I was expecting to be at least a little bit informed. I wasn’t impressed.

As he is reputed to be, Pascrell was impatient with the noisy audience and condescendingly dismissive of his opponents. His response to any seemingly threatening or challenging question was to either deny the “accusation” outright, or to repeat vague talking points that never answered anything in specific.

As to whether the bill would provide coverage for abortions, his answer was “no”, but would not elaborate.

Asked about the feasibility of increasing the demand for healthcare without increasing the supply of healthcare providers, Pascrell simply stated,

The bill includes incentives for more primary care doctors.

Perhaps these incentives include cloning, because I’m pretty sure ObamaCare is the biggest disincentive to doctors this country has seen. But, really, what incentives will the bill include, and how will they possibly provide for the sudden new demand of medical workers?

And as for the negotiation of drug prices:

I don’t really believe that we can bring down the cost of drugs until we have someone sitting down at the negotiating table who represents us.

Am I the only one who lost brain cells trying to comprehend this statement?

His best response had to be on the question of tort reform. Why did the bill fail to include any plan for this?

I’m not a lawyer. But I think it would be great to discuss this.

You give me tort reform that will bring down premiums and I’m there.

As a typical cop out, he explained that tort law would be too complicated to include in an already complicated bill, and that malpractice lawsuits were only a small part of the problem.

No, Congressman, you are not a lawyer, indeed. And what else you are not is a doctor, and by your own logic, then, you and your friends in Congress should not be so quick to tell the healthcare industry how to do what it knows far better than you.

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