Rick Santorum's (and the GOP's) Damage Cap Problem

Rick Santorum is not the first politician to be caught in a "Do as I say, not as I did" moment. So when it came out this weekend that Santorum had asked for more damages in his wife's medical malpractice lawsuit than the legal limit he would like to impose on all malpractice victims, it would be easy to shrug off the story as the usual politicians behaving badly. But that would miss the bigger and more interesting story.

All the Republican presidential candidates, this year and stretching back for many campaigns, propose damage caps and other rollbacks to the public's right to sue when injured by medical mistakes.

The idea of imposing a uniform national limit on the amount that victims could sue for -- no matter how bad their injury -- has always been a head scratcher to anyone looking for some minimal level of consistency in their politicians. After all, Republicans are often the first to decry "big government Washington solutions" to local issues best handled by each of the 50 states in their own ways. And with medical malpractice, there has been no shortage of state experiments with damage caps and other ideas that are supposed to make medical care more affordable and accessible, despite the lack of evidence that they do either.

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