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Doctor fees

I’m actually sympathetic to doctors — yet in some respects, not. I get into these arguments with them all the time: “There is nothing but your own expectations making you send your kids to private schools, buy an expensive house or get a new car every two years,” I say. “You’re complaining about paying for private school, yet you live in one of the best school districts in the state. What’s up with that?”

One doctor I know (and appreciate, because he keeps his fees low enough that I can actually afford them) is always crying about malpractice insurance premiums and tort reform. “I have a friend in Texas who told me they capped jury awards there, and the malpractice suits went down,” he told me.

“I really wish I had your problems,” I said. “You’re saying that because you want a certain lifestyle, including a wife who stays home with your kids, that other people should give up their legal protections to subsidize that. When you make it impossible for victims to file lawsuits, it means your profession has made a conscious decision to subsidize the really bad doctors. That doesn’t seem quite moral to me.”

Malpractice premiums are driven by other factors anyway. When insurance companies were making a huge profit and premiums were low, doctors weren’t complaining then. Now, when the industry has taken huge losses in the market, they’re trying to make up the difference. The problem? Capitalism!

“Plus, you guys do a terrible job of policing your profession,” I said. “Remember, 95 percent of malpractice cases are generated by the same 5 percent of doctors.” (I used to be a medical fraud investigator; I saw the same familiar names, over and over.)

Still, when I read about this study, the researchers didn’t mention that when doctors sign insurance company contracts, they agree they won’t offer reduced rates to the uninsured. It would probably be a less controversial and more popular approach to make those contract conditions (i.e. insurance profitability subsidies) illegal, don’t you think?

WASHINGTON — Doctors are paid higher fees in the United States than in several other countries, and this is a major factor in the nation’s higher overall cost of health care, says a new study by two Columbia University professors, one of whom is now a top health official in the Obama administration.
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From 2006:

Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon’s initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public rather than a reflection of the fog of events on that day, according to sources involved in the debate.

Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, according to several commission sources. Staff members and some commissioners thought that e-mails and other evidence provided enough probable cause to believe that military and aviation officials violated the law by making false statements to Congress and to the commission, hoping to hide the bungled response to the hijackings, these sources said.

More from this guy.

Labor Day with Paul Ryan

(I moved this up in case you missed it.) You gotta see this!


How to boost your wifi signal with a beer can!

Breaking news

Breaking news this morning. This was a major decommissioning site for nuclear weapons:

One person has been killed and four injured, one seriously, by an explosion at the southern French nuclear plant of Marcoule.

There were no radioactive leaks after the blast, caused by a fire near a furnace in a radioactive waste storage site, a French nuclear official said.

A security perimeter has been set up because of the risk of leakage.

The plant produces MOX fuel, which recycles plutonium from nuclear weapons, but does not include reactors.

The explosion hit the plant at 1145 local time (0945 GMT).

“For the time being nothing has made it outside,” said a spokesman for France’s Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).


Ground Zero high school grads coming down with serious illnesses:

Dear God, bloggers have been outsourced

I mean, isn’t this what we’ve been doing for 10 years?

Hell in a bucket

There may come a day I will dance on your grave
If unable to dance, I will crawl.

This song still cracks me up. Grateful Dead:

Where are you now

Kelly Clarkson:

Spirit in the sky

Norman Greenbaum:

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