Integrity is a funny concept. Some define themselves by it, and live by its precepts. Others use it as a shield, behind which they act in ways that are anything but integrious . (Thanks to Antonin Pribetic, author of The Trial Warrior Blog , for pointing out this site , which provides an expanded definition of the term.)
With that in mind, let's have a look at Capitol Confidential's most recent post on Albany's tort “reform” push. You may recall that the Governor's Medicaid Redesign Team wants to impose caps on non-economic medical malpractice damages, and to take claims of infants neurologically-impaired by medical malpractice out of the court system, and into a state no-fault fund.
You may also recall that the same Team is comprised of leaders of hospital systems, a couple of politicians, and the Greater New York Hospital Association. In other words, it is, essentially, stacked with the very corporations that would benefit most if the tort “reforms” are made into law. This spurred an ethics complaint by a pro-consumer group, the Center for Justice and Democracy, about the composition of the MNR. Why, the Center wondered, were there no representatives from consumers' rights groups or patient-safety groups, so that the voice of the people directly affected by medical mistakes could be heard?
According to Capitol Confidential, the ethics complaint made by the Center for Justice and Democracy to the New York State Commission On Public Integrity has been rejected. In fact, they have refused to even investigate the Center's claims, according to the letter explaining its actions, found within the Capital Confidential post. It found no conflict because the MNR is just an “advisory” panel, so that there was no imbalance of power. Really?
Well, here's something that consumers in New York State might be interested in. The good folks on the NYS Commission On Public Integrity serve at the pleasure of the Governor . And so, speaking of the subject of integrity, its members have a personal stake in pleasing the same entity. Could it be that the NYS Commission On Public Integrity was unduly influenced by that interest when it outright rejected the conflict of interest claim? And wouldn't that be the ultimate irony?
But more important, don't New York consumers deserve better?