"Rex Morgan, M.D." has apparently entered the fray on the medical malpractice insurance controversy. His office assistant opens an envelope and exclaims, "Rex's medical malpractice insurance premium just went up $40,000!" [Comics, March 2].
No way would Rex's premium go up $40,000. Based on years of following his adventures, I am quite certain that he practices in one of the low-risk, low-premium specialties -- general practice, family practice or internal medicine. Nationally, the premiums for these specialties are in the $8,000 to $15,000 range. Did our hero, unbeknown to us loyal comics fans, commit a lot of malpractice to justify a big rate increase? No, Dr. Morgan is the most competent, caring, compassionate physician in America. But it wouldn't make any difference. In most states, physicians are not charged higher premiums if they have bad malpractice records. The good doctors subsidize the bad apples by paying the same premiums. Five percent commit 54 percent of the malpractice, according to National Practitioners Data Bank figures.
Who will advocate for the survivors of malpractice in the controversy over the insurance system? Sam Driver, the lawyer hero in "Judge Parker," comes to mind, because he usually represents the underdog. But "Judge Parker" and "Rex Morgan, M.D." are both written by one Woody Wilson, an obvious conflict of interest. So the representation will be left by default to the superhero of all trial lawyers, who always fights for the underdog against great odds: Spider-Man.
Perhaps Spider-Man can untangle the mess by successfully lobbying Congress to remove the insurance industry's exemption from antitrust laws, leaving professional baseball as the only industry permitted to conspire to set prices.
-- Jack H. Olender