Sunday, February 12, 2012

CCO Bill and Tort Cap

The Oregon Legislature is trying to figure out whether or not to include a tort cap in the CCO bill.  The stakes are high, as legislators are expecting up to $2.5 billion in federal aid if the CCO bill passes.  I don't know the politics well enough to guess what would happen if a CCO bill doesn't pass in this session.  Maybe the federal money will still be there next year, maybe not.  But since the state already banked savings resulting from CCO's in the current biennium budget, it doesn't really matter.  The bill needs to pass.

For that reason I think Democrats need to hold their noses and pass the bill with the tort cap included.  While it is true that Republicans are engaging in hostage taking and you risk encouraging such behavior by giving in, there are some mitigating factors.
  • One of the central purposes of CCO's is to save money by reducing unnecessary or ineffective care.  The tort cap may be politically undesirable and only marginally effective, but however slightly it still promotes the goals of the CCO.  Tacking this on isn't as irresponsible as would be say, a demand for PERS reform or tax cuts.
  • Passing the CCO bill with a tort cap does not forestall pursuing more effective tort reform in the next session.  Passage of a more comprehensive reform which affected all providers state wide would render the CCO compromise moot.  And make no mistake, there is ample reason to pursue tort reform quite apart from CCO's.
 Given the money at stake and the relatively small compromise needed, legislators would be grossly negligent if they fail to pass this bill.  Jawbone and posture all you want.  Call out the fine 15 for committing to the proposition that $20M in annual savings is worth more than $2.5B, a trade that takes 125 years to pay off.  But at the end of the day, we need this bill.  Get it done.

No comments: