Mickey Kaus is skeptical that Hillary Clinton's speech to the moderate DLC is evidence of a real move to the center. Her nod to the medical malpractice issue doesn't provide much grounds for optimism:
[We can] lower the costs of doctors� malpractice insurance through large self-insured pools, alternative dispute resolution models, and reductions in errors.
The absence of caps, which some Democrats have endorsed elsewhere at the state level, is notable. Instead, we see three proposals, none of which does anything to fix the malpractice liability crisis. Most doctors are already covered through "large self-insured pools"; their rates continue to rise in response to malpractice litigation costs in states that have rejected caps. "Alternative dispute resolution models" is an empty phrase that could mean anything as radical as Common Good's proposal for medical courts to something as ineffectual as encouraging non-binding arbitration that would be inadmissible as evidence at trial. "Reducing errors" is a platitude everyone can agree upon, sort of like "reducing nun-beating," but the disconnect between error levels and malpractice litigation costs, even when errors are dramatically reduced, doesn't hold out much hope for doctors seeking relief.
Compare and contrast her husband Bill's apparent statement to an audience at the Aspen Institute that "the Democrats are wrong to deny that malpractice suits don�t drive up medical costs." (Kurt Andersen, "Centrist Mountain Time", New York Magazine, Jul. 25). One hopes Bill meant more with this statement than the thin gruel offered by Hillary.
Kaus suggests that Hillary needs to prove herself by standing up to a traditional Democratic constituency. Might I suggest the trial lawyers? That's win-win: Hillary gets her Sister Souljah moment for speaking truth to power, the Dems neutralize an issue popular for Republicans, and the country is better off for getting bipartisan support for legal reform.