Turnabout Is Fair Play

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It is no secret these past few years that a great deal of time, effort, stress, strain and frustration has gone into attempting to socialize medical care in this country.

Americans have a curious notion: Everything that’s good should be a right, and everything that’s bad should be a crime.

The problem comes when the government, in order to secure us more rights, keeps coming up with more crimes.

Take health care. A century ago, doctors had little to offer besides bedside manner and whatever nostrums they’d tucked into their little black bags. People paid in cash or accepted the free treatment doctors provided as a normal part of their practice.

Now health care consumes nearly one-sixth of our gross domestic product, and if you believe nearly everybody to the left of Dr. Ron Paul, it’s either already a right or should be – albeit a right provided by a government that seems to equate ever-tighter regulation and prosecution of doctors and other providers with the efficient provision of that right.

We would never dare question the hundreds of thousands of pages of ever-changing regulations, the ever-increasing criminalization of honest mistakes, and the government’s sovereign right to determine who gets what. All we ask is that the notion of rights, and the provision and regulation thereof, be applied to that other great consumer of the GDP:

THE LAW.

After all, as a seasoned senior with an ever-enlarging family, my legal needs and costs will be increasing at an accelerating pace.

Since lawyers in Congress, proposed and wrote national health insurance, it is only fair for others to suggest national legal care. So, as a retired, graying physician I’d like to propose socialized legal care.

The principle is simple. Access to lawyers is a fundamental human right. You are entitled to all you want, for any reason or for no particular reason at all, subject only to the government’s willingness to provide it. In order to make sure you get everything the government thinks you need, from routine legal services to hit-the-jackpot lawsuits, the government will start treating lawyers the way they treat doctors.

THE NEW RULES

1. No American may be denied legal care, regardless of ability to pay.

2. There shall be tens of thousands of pages of government rules and fine print regarding how to practice law. These will require hundreds of hours a year to master, will change constantly, often without notice, and may result in lawyers having to hire and pay employees who do nothing but puzzle over rules of compliance.

3. Failure to abide by these rules may result in harassment, fines, or prison time.

4. Legal fees will be based on relative value scales established in the 1980s and will be cut back 10 percent every year. Lawyers will simply have to handle more clients for less.

5. There will be no referral fees of any kind. Million-dollar kickbacks are strictly prohibited.

6. Any lawyer losing a case will be deemed to have made “preventable errors.”

7. The government will not reimburse lawyers for “preventable errors” in practice. The only acceptable standard is perfection.

8. Any lawyer losing three or more cases will be deemed guilty of malpractice and have his or her license revoked.

9. In 2007 Medicare announced that it would soon stop paying hospitals for the extra costs of treating certain patients whose illnesses are compounded by preventable errors. A similar provision for the legal community should promote better legal care and, if expanded, should reduce legal costs.

10. From time to time, at the government’s discretion, certain legal specialties will be chosen for exemplary prosecutions. Most people suggest it be trial lawyers.

Finally, the government will ensure that, in all cases, lawyers (either in practice or in one of the three branches of government) are held accountable by persons other than just lawyers.

Michael Arnold Glueck, MD, of Newport Beach, writes on medical-legal issues locally and nationally. He has a great fondness for greedy trial lawyers.

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