Yesterday I wrote about the exploits of Dr. Robert Zaleksi, one of the faces of the famous West Virginia doctor strike. But Dr. Zaleski is not alone in his hypocrisy. A lot of the hyprocisy was present during Dr. Zaleski’s walkout.
After the Bush Administration kicked off its war on trial lawyers, Congressional Republicans started holding hearings on the medical malpractice crises. West Viriginia Representative Shelley Moore Capito proudly introduced Dr. Samuel Roberts to testify that the problems he was having with excessive malpractice insurance might force him to leave the practice. Somehow, Dr. Roberts forgot to tell the committee that in 1987 he had pleaded guilty to five counts of cocaine possession and was sentenced to five years’ probation.
During the same strike, Dr. Rajai Khoury was quoted on television as saying "we’re hurting, our patients are hurting, the community is suffering." Dr. Khoury forgot to mention that, despite being sued several times, he lived in a 12,000 square foot, five car garage home. I’m not sure of Dr. Khoury’s definition of "hurting," but that doesn’t meet mine.
Even the organizers of the strike weren’t immune to the lies and half-truths. The West Virginia Medical Society held a rally and set out 37 chairs to represent doctors who supposedly were forced out of practice because of insurance costs. A local reporter, however, actually did an investigation of the allegations and found that at least two of the doctors weren’t practicing, not because of insurance, but because they were dead.
These stories rarely come to light in the popular press, but they’re well-chronicled in Stephanie Mencimer’s book, Blocking the Courthouse Door, which I encourage everyone to read. It’s one of the few books that really looks into the stories and shows the real truth (or lack thereof) behind tort reform.