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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Controlling Healthcare Costs

It is getting very expensive to try to maintain your health. Healthcare costs are soaring and there is no relief in sight. Well, maybe a little.

One of the contributing factors to your doctor visit costing you an arm and a leg (a pitiful attempt at punditry, I know) is medical malpractice insurance that hospitals and physicians have to pay these days. I know it comes as a shock, but, yes, they pass that cost on to you.

Well, apparently the state of Virginia - along with a handful of others - is trying to do something about it.
Virginia law caps medical malpractice awards at about $1.75 million, and the legislature has enacted other changes aimed at making it tougher to sue doctors. The result, many say, is that malpractice insurance has been available and relatively affordable in Virginia.

But doctors and hospital groups say they will press for more limits, including a stricter cap on damages for pain and suffering. They have the support of some Republican lawmakers, who have made such changes a priority for the legislative session. (link)
Of course there is opposition to these changes - from malpractice lawyers.

Opponents of stricter caps on damage awards in Virginia and the District say such legislation will do little to bring down the soaring costs of malpractice insurance for doctors. They say limiting the damages is an affront to people who are seriously injured at the hands of negligent doctors.

"If you make it hard enough for an injured victim to bring a suit, you become bulletproof from even the worst negligence," said Chuck Zauzig, a malpractice lawyer in Northern Virginia.

There are a number of things that can be done to make healthcare more affordable. This is a big one. Get behind your legislators and get necessary malpractice law reform passed.


There are (allegedly) a number of people out there who are attempting to take advantage of the tsunami tragedy in south Asia.

Fraudulent Charities Use Tsunami Pleas To Prey on Donors

BY JACOB GERSHMAN - Staff Reporter of the Sun December 30,

On eBay, sellers are hawking Pez dispensers, a gold necklace, a stuffed mouse, and a "hand-carved" Buddha statue with the promise that proceeds from the auctions will go directly to charities assisting the victims of the tsunami in Asia.

Visitors to tsunamireliefaid.com are directed to a crudely constructed Web site with photographs of those who appear to be tsunami victims and instructions urging users to send relief packages and $10 checks to a P.O. box in Germantown, Md.

As major aid agencies around the globe undertake what could be the costliest and most complex relief effort ever, the catastrophe in South Asia has also given rise to hundreds of newly born charities purporting to raise money for victims.

While the federal government has made attempts to crack down on charity fraud since September 11, 2001 - the Patriot Act increased the penalty of impersonating a Red Cross member to five years from one - and Internet users have become more savvy, phony charities are trying harder than ever to swindle donors on the Internet.

Many of these charities are anonymous and don't have the imprimatur of philanthropic associations. It's unclear if the fund-raisers mentioned above are legitimate. But according to those familiar with online fraud, people looking to donate to the tsunami victims ought to be extra wary of unfamiliar Internet sites and individuals collecting money or goods. (link)

There is no need to risk your hard-earned income on some "charity" that may get some of your donation to people in need. Give, as I do, to the people that have been involved in relief operations for many years - the American Red Cross.