Let’s pause a moment to put the ugly debt ceiling debate into perspective. If there’s one thing voters learned over the past few weeks, it is that our leaders will do almost anything to avoid an honest discussion about our country’s problems. A responsible discussion about cutting public sector costs would surely have included legal reforms, yet I did not hear that issue raised once throughout the debate.
Legal reforms are a common sense, no cost solution that would help our local, state and federal governments address the cost drivers that greatly contribute to the public sector debt. These drivers include and are not limited to health care costs and the cost of legal services to public entities.
The U.S. tort system costs every man, woman and child in the U.S. a yearly "tort tax" of $808. That is $3,232 for a family of four, a huge cost for many families that are struggling to make ends meet these days. Add into the equation the impact of lawsuits on schools and cities and counties and you it’s obvious that legal reforms would have a hugely beneficial impact for our nation.
Then you look at the issue of health care and you really see the impact of lawsuits on the city, county, state, and federal budgets. The American Medical Association claims that 60 percent of liability claims against doctors are dropped, withdrawn, or dismissed without payment. However, in 2008 each of these cases still cost an average of $22,000. Another recent study found that more than half of emergency room physicians say they practice defensive medicine just to protect themselves from lawsuits. And even President Obama in his State of the Union this year mentioned the need for medical malpractice reform. The problem is that it has to go beyond just a mention.
This country has a serious problem at all levels when it comes to lawsuits and litigation that is taking a terrible toll. There is not a single issue that is not impacted by lawsuits. So you’re left with two options: ignore it, like the politicians in Washington, or deal with it like people have in Texas and Tennessee and reap the benefits of increased job creation and economic growth. Legal reform is needed and it is needed now!