Sunday, September 6, 2009

Health care reform? How about some Legal Reform?

If you believe people have a "right to health care," don't you also believe in the fact that we are all supposed to be equal under the law? Are you concerned about justice for the rich versus justice for the poor? Millions face jail time and financial ruin because they are unable to afford legal representation. Many of those who hire an attorney to successfully defend them are bankrupted in the process of paying back the legal fees.
Maybe the time has come for Legal Reform as suggested here. You just gotta love this stuff. Highlights include:
• Contingency fees will be discouraged, and eventually outlawed, over a five-year period. This will put legal rewards back into the pockets of the deserving—the public and the aggrieved parties. Slick lawyers taking their "cut" smacks of a bookie operation. Attorneys will be permitted to keep up to 3% in contingency cases, the remainder going into a pool for poor people.
• Legal "DRGs." Each potential legal situation will be assigned a relative value, and charges limited to this amount. Program participation and acceptance of this amount is mandatory, regardless of the number of hours spent on the matter. Government schedules of flat fees for each service, analogous to medicine's Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs), will be issued. For example, any divorce will have a set fee of, say, $1,000, regardless of its simplicity or complexity. This will eliminate shady hourly billing. Niggling fees such as $2 per page photocopied or faxed would disappear. Who else nickels-and-dimes you while at the same time charging hundreds of dollars per hour? I'm surprised lawyers don't tack shipping and handling onto their bills.
• Discourage/eliminate specialization. Legal specialists with extra training and experience charge more money, contributing to increased costs of legal care, making it unaffordable for many. This reform will guarantee a selection of mediocre, unmotivated attorneys but should help slow rising legal costs. Big shot under indictment? Classified National Archives documents down your pants? Sitting president defending against impeachment? Have FBI agents found $90,000 in your freezer? Too bad. Under reform you too may have to go to the government legal shop for advice.
• Collect data about the supply of and demand for attorneys.Create a commission to study the diversity and geographic distribution of attorneys, with power to stipulate and enforce corrective actions to right imbalances. The more bureaucracy the better. One can never have too many eyes watching these sleazy sneaks.

It's a great read--too bad it will never come to fruition.
Please understand that I am not against health care reform. The system is strikingly flawed, both on the government-run side as well as the private sector. It needs a rather thorough cleansing. But hey--if we can do it to the doctors, why can't we do it to the lawyers? Or the plumbers? Or better yet--our elected representatives? Hell--they "do it" to us all the time . . .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It probably is a great read, but since the 6th word was socialism I could not bring myself to go any further. I prefer my comedy a little more low brow -- so for this kind of crap I go to Glen Beck rather than the esteemed WSJ.

Welcome back, dude.