OPINION: Everyone's a Critic

Commentary by Ron Miller

Commentary by Ron Miller(July 22, 2009) One of the consequences of expressing your opinion in public every week is you're going to invite criticism, and I'm no exception to that rule. I thought I'd devote this week's column to the critics, not only out of respect for their rebuttals but to inform others who may have the same views that they've expressed.

I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across a response to my column on medical malpractice liability reform from another Ron Miller, Ronald V. Miller, Jr. to be exact. Ron is an attorney in Baltimore who represents individuals in personal injury cases. His response is predictable:

"I'm sure he is a nice guy. But politically, and particularly on this issue, he is the anti-me. And I don't think this article even offers the best arguments for those arguing for tort reform in Maryland medical malpractice cases."

Ron is particularly critical of my proposal for a hospital-administered arbitration system for medical malpractice cases, stating it would be "mad" to let hospitals decide if malpractice occurred and what the settlement will be.

Well, Ron, I'm sure you are a nice guy and I dig your name. You may even be, as you say, more famous than me. That's cool; the paparazzi can get on your nerves after a while. I'm not a lawyer so I don't have all your "book learnin'" as my grandfather used to say.

If you read the article beyond the suggestion that sent you into low earth orbit, however, you'd see that even if a patient goes through the entire process, they still have the right to take their case to court if they aren't satisfied. This proposed approach is more flexible than the standard dispute resolution process in most corporations these days where, once you accept their jurisdiction, you surrender your right to outside litigation.

You'd also see where I suggest an independent arbitration system could be established to further ensure impartiality. Finally, I mentioned this system has proved credible with patients who've used it.

You see, "bizarro Ron Miller" doesn't believe a lawsuit is the only way to satisfy the patient and discipline doctors legitimately guilty of malpractice vice simply not meeting unrealistic expectations. I don't want to threaten your livelihood, however. If the health court proposal I reference in the same article is implemented, I think you'd make a great health court judge.

Another critic pointed out that a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study discounted the conventional wisdom that malpractice liability is a major cost factor in health care. I don't know all the parameters of their study but my mother always told me to "use the common sense God gave you." Common sense tells me if a doctor orders a battery of tests that aren't necessary but might help deflect a potential lawsuit, those extra tests cost somebody some money. If doctors' malpractice insurance premiums are going up rather than down, common sense suggests the cost has to be absorbed somewhere in the system. These higher costs are directly attributable to the threat of malpractice liability and someone's paying for them somewhere.

On another consumer topic, some folks took exception to my argument that electric utilities and energy providers in Maryland were being unfairly blamed for our high electricity bills by a desperate Governor O'Malley. They took the populist position that because they are corporations, they are somehow at fault and deserve to have their prices capped regardless of the consequences.

If BGE and Constellation were overcharging us, O'Malley's Public Service Commission would have been all over it. The PSC couldn't find any wrongdoing because there isn't any, and O'Malley has been harassing them like a stalker ever since. Breaking contracts at will, thereby discouraging other businesses from coming to Maryland because our leaders cannot be trusted to deal in good faith, and demanding concessions without justification like some kind of mob protection racket doesn't make him a "friend of the people" - it makes him a fool.

He's being childish concerning the proposed third nuclear power reactor in Calvert County, a project which would bring the state more energy and the county more jobs and tax revenue. The president of the Calvert County board of commissioners, a fellow Democrat, publicly implored him to support the new reactor, but he said he'd do what's best for the consumers of the state. More energy, jobs and tax revenue and lower electricity bills are in the consumers' best interest, but he longs to stick it to Constellation and BGE. If anyone's behavior is contemptible, it's his; for the people's sake, 2010 can't come fast enough.

Ron Miller, of Huntingtown, is a conservative blogger and activist, former and future candidate for the Maryland Senate, and communications director for the Calvert County Republican Party. Ron is a regular contributor to RegularFolksUnited.com, RedCounty.com, and ProLifeUnity.com. You can also follow Ron on his website TeamRonMiller.com, as well as Twitter and Facebook.

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