Friday, March 19, 2010

It Kind of All Ties In

It does kind of all tie in. As we move (hopefully) to a system of expanded insurance coverage for thirty one million uninsured Americans, there is more to the story than meets the idea. The party of “no” ignores basic facts about the current system, which operates in a variety of ways to cheat people and deprive them of needed medical care at crucial times in their lives. A 17-year-old boy in Georgia was recently permitted to sue his medical insurer who had denied him coverage because a nurse inadvertently wrote 2001, rather than 2002, on a medical form as the time on onset of his medical condition. Thus, this mistake allowed the insurance company to claim that the insured lied on his insurance application by failing to disclose his pre-existing condition, AIDS. A private lawsuit was brought and, thus, the shenanigans of the insurance company were exposed. In fact, they had conducted a company wide policy of finding ways to exclude anybody with AIDS by the simple denial of coverage for a myriad of reasons. In doing so, the company saved itself more than 150 million dollars in coverage costs for which it was legally liable.

Why I say that it all ties in is that this deplorable incident serves to illuminate exactly why this country needs a system of medical care not controlled by a group of insurance accountants who examine only the bottom line of their companies’ profits. This country also needs to nourish and demand a continuation of our tort system, which, many times, can be the only means of rooting out irresponsible behavior of corporations.

Our system of government, our society, thrives best in a balanced manner. To allow unregulated corporations free rein to maximize their profits carries just the kinds of risks of incidents like the one described above. There needs to be a balance and counterweight to corporate activity, which allows conduct to be examined and liability to be assessed. The American way of life, tea-party wise, is absolutely correct when it decries government influence in private activities. However, the yelling stops short when it comes to the most important aspect of all. The preservation of our rights under the 7th amendment of the Constitution is a guaranteed right that systematic corporate influence has swept under the bus. Ironically, the same people who demand the right to carry their weapons to presidential speeches and prevent government interference from gun shows selling weapons to lunatics, etc., are the ones who scream, literally, most loudly about the need to eliminate the tort system of holding people and corporations responsible for their behaviors. These types extend to the highest offices in our land, i.e. Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito, not to mention the various Republican Congressman and Senators who would toss the system of torts of America out like the baby with the bath water.

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