The A.M.A. has its crisis states marked in red on a map of the U.S. on its Web site. One of the red states is Missouri. But a press release in April from the Missouri Department of Insurance said, “Missouri medical malpractice claims, filed and paid, fell to all-time lows in 2003 while insurers enjoyed a cash-flow windfall.”
Another red state on the A.M.A. map is New Jersey. Earlier this month, over the furious objections of physicians’ representatives, a judge ordered the release of data showing how much was being paid out to satisfy malpractice claims. The judge’s order was in response to a suit by The Bergen Record.
The newspaper reported that an analysis of the data showed that malpractice payments in New Jersey had declined by 21 percent from 2001 to 2003. But malpractice insurance premiums surged over the same period. A.M.A. officials told me yesterday that they thought the New Jersey data was “incomplete,” but they did not dispute the 21 percent figure.
While I’ve heard some things about there not being a corelation between medical tort reform and medical insurance premiums. It’s intresting to note that the low instrest rates that we have used to boost up the economy has the downside effect of putting pressure on premiums.
There is no question that malpractice insurance premiums have increased sharply over the past few years. In some instances they have skyrocketed. But, as the Congressional Budget Office has noted, there are a variety of reasons for that, including the cost of malpractice awards, decreases in the investment income of insurance companies and cyclical factors in the insurance market.
“Insurance companies’ investment yields have been lower for the past few years,” the budget office said in a report in January, “putting pressure on premiums to make up the difference.
Cory Doctorow gave a talk today at Microsoft regarding why he feels that DRM is bad. There are three overall themes, first is that DRM is an end run around copyright law, and that all these schemes plus anticircumvention laws allows content distributers to invent new “law“. The second is that DRM is harmfull to pretty much everyone. The third is that copyright law has always in the past adapted to the new technological reality, not the otherway around.
I had a pretty busy weekend this weekend. Friday night contained watching the movie Garden State written by, directed by and stars Zach Braff. Natalie Portman is very cute in the film. This is the first movie in a while that I was sold by the trailer instead of the premise. Saturday was strawberry picking on a farm in Mount Vernon at .89 cents a pound. There is something different about going through the bushes and seeing what it looks like off the plant compared to just picking up a big container of them at Costco. The other fun thing about picking them yourself is the right to taste as you go :). That evening was the first showing of Ghost of the Shell Innocence in the US with the Seattle International Film Festival after recently being screened at Cannes.
Sunday was the Cascade Training Series with the Cascade Cycle Club; 85 miles round trip from Sand Point in Seattle (sort of near the university district) to Sultan on Hwy 2 by way of Snohomish on the outward route. One segment coming down in to Snohomish’s valley off of Broadway on a road called Springhetti up to Airport way, I led a group of people and maintained a 25 MPH pace. It was on the return route of crossing the valley, that Monroe sits in, that the distance and the headwind started to catch up to me shaving a mile per hour or two off my 17/18 MPH pace. By the time I got back to Burke Gillman trail, my legs were not happy. I had little fear about violating the 15 MPH speed limit on that route. The two last miles my speed was down to 13 mph, but I managed to finish up, put away my bike, rest and start to drive off before the rest of the blue group rode in. I was dead weight for the rest of the day and pretty out of it all Monday. All in all, riding from Snohomish to Monroe and the leg coming back from sultan south of hwy 2 was some really nice riding and I’m looking forward to killing myself again this next weekend.
It’s nearly impossible this week to escape the stories about Reagan’s life. Two I’m reading and listen to today stand out. The first is a slate article about the how of Reagan’s winning the cold war. It talks about the mix of his hawk and disarmament policies and the extreme luck of having Mikhail Gorbachev as his opposite. The second is a NPR Morning Edition peice about how Reagan used far from factual anecdotes and rhetoric to deflect criticisms or make policy points. The points are told by Evan Cornog the author of “The Power and the Story.”