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HHS Secretary gently weaves in tort reform as part of healthcare reform

(NEWS) The tort litigation process of this land is close to potentially being overhauled. And you may not have even noticed.

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Happenings on The Hill

Seven far-reaching bills, supported by the Republicans and vehemently opposed by consumer groups, are now making its way through Congress.

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Colloquially known as “tort reform,” with Mr. Trump in the White House, the prospects of enacting business-friendly litigation looks promising.

But we are short on details.

Tort reform

In his joint address to Congress, President Trump specifically mentioned his support for measures to “implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance.”

This was a direct reference to the Protecting Access to Care Act (H.R. 1215), which caps medical malpractice awards, non-economic damages at $250,000.

In theory, the supports of reform argue that by making liability laws less complex, and cutting out frivolous lawsuits, medical costs shall come down.

Gears in motion

Last month, the Senate confirmed Rep. Thomas Price (R-GA) to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

A staunch opponent of Obamacare, Mr. Price, a former orthopedic surgeon, is expected to implement the President’s reform plan.

In a March 2nd speech accompanying Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary Price called tort reform “defensive medicine” which went wholly unnoticed.

Rockin’ the boat

Critics immediately pointed out two contractions. First, they contend, that there is simply no evidence that liability restrictions lower insurance costs.

Secondly, President Trump’s support for tort reform directly puts him at odds with many conservatives who object to Congress interfering with tort laws, a traditional domain of individual states.

What are implications beyond healthcare?

Anything for the agenda

Does medical liability reform imply a broader civil justice reform agenda?

Will the President approve tort reform bills when they reach his desk?

Joanne Doroshow at the Center for Justice & Democracy in New York, advised against that interpretation.(https://bol.bna.com/trump-seen-as-supportive-of-business-backed-litigation-bills/). Medical malpractice, she said, has “nothing to do with the other bills that exonerate misconduct by large industries, about which he said nothing.”

He gets a bill, she gets a bill, EVERYONE GETS A BILL

A quick glance at the bills, five of them currently in the House, certainly establish their diversity, and non-medical nature.

The bills propose changes that include: provisions to rewrite class-action practice; support defendants resisting cases in plaintiff-friendly state courts; punish attorneys filing bogus claims; seek limits on settlements by the EPA and DOJ; and impose stringent disclosure requirements on asbestos victims claiming compensation.

The President has been entirely silent on these six bills in Congress right now.

Other than President Trump’s medical liability reform comments, and one oblique reference to asbestos, there has been no other speeches, interviews or comments to gauge the President’s views.

Gettin turnt up for tort

Supporters of tort reform, however, seem to be charged up. They are undeterred by President Trump’s specific mention of “medical” litigation reform.

Sherman Joyce, president of the American Tort Reform Association, told Bloomberg, “we’ll eagerly make the case to the White House and fence-sitters in Congress that, just as meritless litigation makes health care less affordable and accessible, it also undermines economic growth and job creation — two of President Trump’s top priorities.”

However, nothing is certain.

All six bills differ in scope and while they are expected to pass the House, uncertainty in the Senate remains high, where democrats are expected to filibuster some (if not all) of the bills.

Why has President Trump been silent?

A possible explanation is this: because civil litigation puts his administration at odds with its own policy stance.

Corporate America has always been bent on limiting class actions and push arbitration over jury trials.

PresidentTrump is from the business world, and being a subject of many civil lawsuits himself, is perhaps in line with big business’s agenda.

But such a position directly betrays the rights of grassroots America, his biggest supporters. Curtailing ‘trial by jury’ or the right to take a corporation to court will prove unpopular.

Moreover, business-backed litigation would limit the power of states to go after big businesses—another conflict of policy for President Trump, who is a big supporter of strong state powers, as reiterated in the Congress speech.

Huge repercussions

As President Trump likes to often say, this is going to be huge.

What is at stake is the American citizen’s right to take business entities to court (the 7th Amendment) or, alternatively, the freedom from frivolous litigation, depending on where you stand on the issue. Click To TweetMuch remains to be resolved in the coming months. For now, all eyes should be on the House floor.

#Tort

Barnil is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. With a Master's Degree in International Relations, Barnil is a Research Assistant at UT, Austin. When he hikes, he falls. When he swims, he sinks. When he drives, others honk. But when he writes, people read.

Business News

Move over, rented scooters, lil’ baby Vespas are up to bat

(TECHNOLOGY) Scooters + technology + money = a parody of American life, but Lordy, it’s about to get worse (or better, depending on your perspective).

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As Austin learns to co-exist with the multitude of electric scooterists that have taken over its sidewalks and streets (and the detritus that has come to signal their top of the alternative mobility food chain), the popularity of the service has led to an unexpected evolution: the electric razor scooters may soon be replaced by a new machine.

Well, kind of. Vespa-esque scooters, developed by the company Ojo, are slated to appear on Austin streets by the end of February. These scooters can reach speeds up to 20 mph and, like the Birds scooters and similar existing competitors, are available to rent via an app for low prices.

Although this news may feel a little like opening a door in Resident Evil only to find that the Umbrella Corporation has created a new monstrosity, the subtle shift in the scooters’ design from standing to sitting may help address one of the biggest concerns of the original infestation: user recklessness.

Perhaps because these Ojo scooters resemble an actual vehicle, riders (and drivers) may be more apt to follow traffic laws and behave responsibly. The company seems to share this attitude, calling themselves “the adult commuter scooter.”

The truth is that there are three camps of attitudes about technology marrying neato transportation: those that rent the scooters, those that hate the scooters and want to burn them to the ground, and those that are unaware of their existence because they live and work in the suburbs. Seriously, even South Park has mocked the movement in several episodes this season.

Ultimately, this movement that we enjoy laughing at points out that the public transportation systems in many cities is seriously inferior, so we can laugh at bad riders (drivers?) in ties, trying to navigate a crowded sidewalk while also eating a burrito, but we should also note that there is a reason these vehicle rentals are thriving (and it’s not because of cultural douchiness).

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Business News

Is insecurity the root of overworking in today’s workforce?

(CAREER) Why are professionals who “made it” in their field still chronically overworked? Why are people still glorifying a lack of sleep in the name of the hustle?!

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So you got that job you wanted after prepping for months, and everything seems cool and good… but you’re working way more hours than scheduled. Skipping lunch, coming in early and staying late, and picking up any project that comes your way. You’re overworked.

Getting the job was supposed to be a mark of success in itself, but now, work is your life and everyone is wondering how you can be working so much if you’re already successful.

In an article for Harvard Business Review, Laura Empson delves into what drives employees to overwork themselves. Empson is a professor of Management of Professional Service firms at the University of London, and has spend the last 25 years researching business practices.

Her recently published book Leading Professionals: Power, Politics and Prima Donnas, focuses on business organizational theory and behavior, based on 500 interviews with senior professionals in the world’s largest organizations.

Over the course of her research, Empson encountered numerous reports of people in white-collar positions pushing themselves to work exhausting hours. Decades ago, those with white-collar jobs in law firms, accountancy firms, and management consultancies worked towards senior management positions to gain partnership.

Once partnership was reached, all the hard work paid off in the form of autonomy and flexibility with scheduling and projects. Now, even entry-level employees are working overextended hours.

An HR director interviewed by Empson noted, “The rest of the firm sees the senior people working these hours and emulates them.” There’s a drive to mirror upper management, even at the cost of health.

Empson’s research indicates insecurity is the root of this behavior. Insecurity about when work is really done, how management will perceive employees, and what counts as hard work. Intangible knowledge work provokes insecurity since there’s rarely ever a way to tell when this work is complete.

Colleagues turn into competitors, and suddenly working outside of your regular hours becomes seen as normal if you want to keep up with the competition. You want to stand out from the crowd, so staying late a few days a week starts to feel normal.

This can turn into a slippery slope, and when being overworked feels like the norm, you may not notice taking on even more extra hours and responsibilities to feel like you’re contributing efficiently to the company.

During her research, Empson found that some recruiters admitted to hiring “insecure overachievers” for their firms.

Insecure overachievers are incredibly ambitious and motivated, but driven by feelings of inadequacy. Financial insecurity and disproportionately tying self-worth to productivity are just a few contributing factors to their self-doubt.

As a result, these kind of people are amazingly self-disciplined, and likely to pursue elite positions with professional organizations. Fear of being exposed as inadequate drives insecure employees to work long hours to prove themselves

Even upper level management is subject to this same insecurity.

Organizational pressures can make even the most established leader overwork themselves.

Empson notes, “Working hard can be rewarding and exhilarating. But consider how you are living. Recognize when you are driving yourself and your staff too hard, and learn how to help yourself and your colleagues to step back from the brink.“

Analyze your organization’s conscious and unconscious messaging about achievement, and make sure you’re setting and enforcing realistic expectations for your team.

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Business News

The most common buzzwords (still) used in job descriptions

(BUSINESS) Employers are trying their best to attract really high quality talent, but the buzzwords that continue to plague the process are lame, annoying, and often insulting.

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It’s that time of year again. Year-in-review lists abound and Indeed.com is no exception. The website for employers and potential employees has taken a look back at the year in job descriptions and released its list of the weirdest job titles used in online listings.

They found the usual suspects — yes, sadly rockstar and hero still make the cut — but a few other keywords skyrocketed up the charts in 2018.

Indeed recognized seven top-performing buzzwords in its research: genius, guru, hero, ninja, superhero, rockstar, and wizard. Among these Top 7, some were up over previous years, while others’ popularity seems to be fading.

Employers really loved referencing masked assassins in their descriptions this year, resulting in a 90 percent year-over-year jump for ninja, and a 140 percent increase for the term since Indeed began tracking these stats in 2015.

Wizards and heroes didn’t fare as well. Job titles containing “wizard” were down 17 percent from 2017 and use of the word “hero” was down a whopping 44 percent since last year. Superhero ended the year up over 2017 (19 percent), but is still down by 55 percent since 2015.

So which states are touting these weird (some might say annoying) titles the most? The answers aren’t too surprising. California tops the list for ninja, genius, rockstar, wizard, and guru. Texas, whose capital is Austin, aka Silicon Hills, loves using hero, superhero, guru, rockstar, and ninja. Populous states New York and Florida make the list for using several of the buzzwords — no surprise there. But a few smaller states snuck into the Top 4, including Ohio (No. 1 “superhero” user) and Utah (No. 4 on the “rockstar” and “wizard” lists).

While many companies like to use these so-called creative terms to convey a sense of a hip and cool company culture, does using these “fun” titles actually find the best candidates? According to Indeed, the answer might be “not exactly.” Job seekers aren’t necessarily searching for terms like ninja or guru, so they might not even find the job they would be the perfect fit for. And truth be told, many experienced job seekers are turned off by these weird titles and might not even apply to the job in the first place.

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