In a previous round, Steve Lubet challenged Alice Goffman’s much-praised book on urban criminal justice, On the Run, on many grounds. Among them was Goffman’s portrayal of Philadelphia police as routinely arresting men with outstanding warrants who showed up at city hospitals to seek ordinary medical care or visit expectant mothers or other family members. Now, in the wake of coverage in the New York Times Magazine, Lubet is back with two more posts (so far) explaining why he sees no good evidence for the claim. Paul Campos contributes a pair of new posts skeptical toward other aspects of the book. Earlier here and, on the book more generally, here.
It’s a familiar libertarian insight that regulation often holds government itself to lower standards than it does private actors. Pension funds for public employees are mostly immune from the federal solvency and funding requirements that apply to their private counterparts; Federal Trade Commission rules against false advertising by private companies do not restrain false advertising by government actors on the same topics; the FTC can fine companies massively for data breaches even as the federal government itself suffers gigantic losses of sensitive data to foreign actors with few, if any, visible career consequences for those who had dozed; anticompetitive practices per se illegal under antitrust law become legal when the states engage in them, and so on and so forth.
Now David Konisky of Indiana University and Manuel Teodoro of Texas A&M, in a study published by the American Journal of Political Science entitled “When Governments Regulate Governments,” have taken a look at some data:
Our empirical subjects are public and private entities’ compliance with the U.S. Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. We find that, compared with private firms, governments violate these laws significantly more frequently and are less likely to be penalized for violations.
For the study, Konisky and Teodoro examined records from 2000 to 2011 for power plants and hospitals regulated under the Clean Air Act and from 2010 to 2013 for water utilities regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The study included over 3,000 power plants, over 1,000 hospitals and over 4,200 water utilities — some privately owned and others owned by public agencies.
* For power plants and hospitals, public facilities were on average 9 percent more likely to be out of compliance with Clean Air Act regulations and 20 percent more likely to have committed high-priority violations.
* For water utilities, public facilities had on average 14 percent more Safe Drinking Water Act health violations and were 29 percent more likely to commit monitoring violations.
* Public power plants and hospitals that violated the Clean Air Act were 1 percent less likely than private-sector violators to receive a punitive sanction and 20 percent less likely to be fined.
*Public water utilities that violated Safe Drinking Water Act standards were 3 percent less likely than investor-owned utilities to receive formal enforcement actions.
[After speculating that public operators may find it harder to raise funds promptly for needed facilities improvements:] Public entities also face lower costs for violating the regulations, the authors argue. There is evidence from other studies that they are able to delay or avoid paying fines when penalties are assessed. And officials with regulatory agencies may be sympathetic to violations by public entities, because they understand the difficulty of securing resources in the public sector.
- King v. Burwell: next ObamaCare showdown at Supreme Court [Ilya Shapiro and Josh Blackman, David Bernstein on Cato brief, Adler v. Bagley Federalist video, Michael Greve with theory of Justice Kennedy riding off to Colorado with Dagny, earlier]
- “J&J says women being illegally solicited to join in mesh lawsuits” [Jessica Dye/Reuters, same on lawyers’ response, more on which]
- Invoking ACA, feds regulate non-profit hospitals to require periodic community needs assessment, limit collection methods [Treasury]
- Unless judges are vigilant, lawyers will take advantage of mass tort joinder to evade CAFA limits on forum-shopping [Steven Boranian, Drug & Device Law]
- Popular literature on IRBs/consent of research subjects can employ dubious definitions of “coercion” [Simon Whitney via Zachary Schrag]
- Qui tam lawyers vs. pharmaceutical companies, some empirical findings [Bill of Health]
- So that’s what “anatomical theatre” means: researcher checks into ostensible open-source medical journals and finds many “had suspicious addresses; one was actually inside a strip club.” [Fast Company on report finding that fake paper was accepted for publication by 17 journals]
- A student of David Henderson’s recalls the state of medicine under the Soviets: assignment to providers based on place of residence; the role of gifts, favors, and clout; how idealistic doctors became cynics; the black market as a safety valve. [EconLog]
- More on effort to blame federal budget cuts for Ebola [Chris Edwards chart at Cato; Nick Gillespie, Reason; Michael Tanner, earlier] How Firestone, rare multinational firm with a large presence in Liberia, fought the disease [NPR] More: Heck of a job, Nicole: administration already has Ebola czar [Mollie Hemingway]
- Train wreck postponed: “Administration Delays Home-Care Worker Minimum-Wage, Overtime Protections” [Kaiser Health News, earlier here, here, etc.; California will not delay]
- “Should it be OK to fire employee for using medical marijuana?” [Debra Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle/syndicated, and thanks for quote; Jacob Sullum on Colorado “any lawful activity” statute]
- Venture capital interest dwindles in cardiac and orthopedic medical device sectors amid concerns over regulatory hassle, tax, reimbursement problems [WSJ (also Avalon), Arnold Kling]
- Billing code for “repeat doctor visit after being sucked into jet engine” probably little-used [Lowering the Bar, and surprise sequel]
- British ambulance workers’ strike will hit scheduled patient visits rather than emergencies, so that’s okay [BBC]
- Does Takings Clause, in combination with unconstitutional-conditions doctrine, require feds to compensate hospitals for EMTALA emergency-treatment mandate? [Haavi Morreim, Regulation, PDF] EMTALA, disability discrimination, and claimed “dumping” of psychiatric patients [Alison Somin on Gail Heriot dissent]
- ObamaCare challenge: D.C. Circuit vacates Halbig decision for en banc rehearing [Roger Pilon, earlier]
- ACLU and SEIU California affiliates oppose trial lawyers’ higher-damages-plus-drug-testing Proposition 46 [No On 46, earlier] As does Sacramento Bee in an editorial;
- Rethinking the use of patient restraints in hospitals [Ravi Parikh, Atlantic; legal fears not mentioned, however]
- Certificate of need regulation: “I didn’t know the state of Illinois had a standard for the maximum permissible size of a hospital room.” [John Cochrane]
- In China, according to a study by Benjamin Liebman of Columbia Law School, hired malpractice mobs “consistently extract more money from hospitals than legal proceedings do” [Christopher Beam, The New Yorker]
- Overview of (private-lawyer-driven) municipal suits on painkiller marketing [John Schwartz, New York Times, earlier] More: Chicago’s contingency deal with Cohen Milstein on opioid lawsuit [LNL] More: Rob Green, Abnormal Use.
- “So In The End, The VA Was Rewarded, Not Punished” [Coyote]
- Alarming: “2,500 Georgia Doctors Lack Malpractice Insurance: Report” [Insurance Journal]
- Improper FDA contact with trial lawyers behind closed doors? [DDLaw, Ed Silverman, WSJ CorpInt]
- AFGE fights efforts to refer patients at troubled VA hospitals to civilian specialists [Betsy McCaughey, Investors] Civil service rules entrench bad VA managers [Rep. Jeff Miller, Time mag]
- Improved understanding of brain damage in newborns could have litigation implications [New York Times “Well”]
- Budget measure widens Medicaid program rights to recoup medical outlays by grabbing part of plaintiff tort recoveries [King & Spalding]
- “Ronald Reagan and AIDS: Correcting the Record” [Carl Cannon]
- Rating the FDA’s various drug review divisions [Manhattan Institute, The Hill, more]
- Trial lawyer push to weaken MICRA, the medical damages cap, could spark most expensive ballot measure struggle in California history [Legal NewsLine]
- Why the FDA should lay off 23andMe [Robert Green and Nita Farahany, Nature via Volokh, earlier]
- SEIU to West Coast hospitals: play ball with our organizers or we’ll arrange to cap your execs’ pay [Bloomberg]
- Video of panel discussion on new book A Conspiracy Against ObamaCare [Randy Barnett et al., more]
- Louisiana high court throws out $330 million award to state, federal governments over marketing of Risperdal [NOLA.com/Times-Picayune, Eric Alexander/Drug and Device Law]
- “If Obamacare Doesn’t Kill Small Medical Practices, Bureaucratic ICD-10 Coding Requirements Might” [Tuccille]
- FDA goes after antibacterial soap. Wisely? [White Coat]
Legislature’s back in session and no citizen’s liberties are safe:
- SB 65 (Benson) would require gas station dealers to maintain operational video cameras and retain footage for 45 days [Maryland Legislative Watch]
- HB 20 (GOP Del. Cluster) would require all public schools to hire cops [Gazette, MLW]
- SB 28 (Frosh) would lower burden of proof for final domestic protective orders from “clear and convincing” to “preponderance of the evidence” [MLW, ABA] One problem with that is that orders already tag family members as presumed abusers in the absence of real evidence, are routinely used as a “tactical leverage device” in divorces, and trip up unwary targets with serious criminal penalties for trying to do things like see their kids;
- Driving while suspected of gun ownership: what unarmed Florida motorist went through at hands of Maryland law enforcement [Tampa Bay Online] 2014 session in Annapolis can hardly be worse for gun rights than 2013, so it stands to reason it’ll be better [Hendershot’s]
- State begins very aggressive experiment in hospital cost controls: “I am glad there is an experiment, but I’m also glad I live in Virginia.” [Tyler Cowen]
- Scenes from inside the failed Maryland Obamacare exchange [Baltimore Sun] Lt. Gov.: now’s not the time to audit or investigate the failed launch because that’d just distract us from it [WBAL]
- Corridors run pink as Montgomery County school cafeterias battle scourge of strawberry milk [Brian Griffiths, Baltimore Sun]
- Plus: A left-right alliance on surveillance and privacy in the legislature [my new Cato at Liberty post]
- How did Maryland same-sex marriage advocates win last year against seemingly long odds? [Stephen Richer, Purple Elephant Republicans citing Carrie Evans, Cardozo JLG; thanks to @ToddEberly as well as Carrie and Stephen for kind words]
- “Essentially, the agency wants to ‘protect’ patients from knowing about their own health” [David Rivkin and Andrew Grossman, USA Today, earlier] FDA-defying workaround lets you get your info even if 23andme’s muzzled [Ron Bailey]
- “Insane Department of HHS plan would criminalize lifesaving bone-marrow donor incentives out of woolly concern with ‘altruism'” [Steven Pinker, Sally Satel/Bloomberg, Michelle Meyer/Bill of Health]
- Affordable Care Act opens up funding stream for alternative medicine. The start of something big? [Kevin Williamson, NRO]
- On underused Gotham hospitals, de Blasio is in hole of his own digging [Bob McManus, City Journal]
- ADA lawsuit against hospital a harbinger of others to come? [Peoria Journal-Star]
- If goal is access to affordable contraception, making Pill available over the counter would seem good first step [Shikha Dalmia/Time, earlier]
- Home-health-aide overtime rules are bad news for seniors hoping to stay out of nursing homes, but AARP can’t shake its scripted role as loyal union ally [More: Free Beacon, from 2011 on AARP brief in state overtime case; earlier here, here, and here]
“The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal action against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, alleging that its ethical guidelines given to Catholic hospitals resulted in negligent care for a miscarrying woman.” The suit, in the name of a Muskegon, Mich. woman who allegedly experienced pain and suffering by not being advised at once to abort a doomed fetus, also names as defendants three individuals who have chaired a church-affiliated body by the name of Catholic Health Ministries. The suit does not however name as a defendant Mercy Health Partners, where plaintiff Tamesha Means was treated, nor does either the Bishops’ Conference nor CHM own Mercy. So what’s the legal theory? Well, the bishops issued ethical guidelines they expected Catholic-affiliated hospitals to follow, and CHM acted as Mercy’s “Catholic sponsor” vouching for its compliance with those guidelines. So maybe the theory consists of “incitement to commit malpractice.” Is it rude to point out that the law recognizes no tort of that sort? [ABA Journal, MLive, Alex Stein/Bill of Health (background on Michigan med-mal law)] See also: Seth Lipsky, N.Y. Post (“astounding” suit menaces defendants for hewing to their view of spiritual truths).