Commentary: McConnell's plan won't fix health care

Sen. Mitch McConnell's No. 1 idea for fixing what ails our health care system is to limit the rights of those maimed by medical malpractice.

But states that have enacted curbs on what McConnell calls "junk lawsuits" have yet to see the cost savings promised by McConnell and other proponents of tort reform.

On the contrary, Texas capped malpractice damages in 2003 only to experience a steep rise in health insurance premiums and medical costs.

Medicare spending rose 24 percent in the three years after punitive damages were capped at $250,000, according to the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy.

One of the most expensive health-care markets in the country is the Texas city of McAllen. Only Miami, which has much higher labor and living costs, spends more per person on Medicare.

Boston surgeon Atul Gawande visited McAllen and wrote an account for The New Yorker, "The Conundrum: What a Texas town can teach us about health care" that's required reading for anyone trying to understand this admittedly baffling topic.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Lexington Herald-Leader.