Tort Reform In Texas

In 2003 Texans passed Proposition 12.  It placed caps on human losses in valid medical negligence claims and put in place other restrictions on the rights of citizens injuryed by medical negligence to seek justice. "Patients were told to expect significant improvements in health care across the state, as well as dramatically lower medical liability insurance premiums for their family doctors."

So now what?  Or as a friend of mine would put it, "how’s that workin’ for ya?"

Here is a brief summary of a report from Texas Watch:

* "Statistics from the Texas Medical Board (TMB), the state agency responsible for licensing doctors, show that since 1997, Texas has seen a steady increase in the number of doctors licensed to practice medicine. Between 1997 and 2003, Texas had an average annual rate of increase in medical licensees of 3.5%. Not only was there not a decrease in the number of doctors obtaining licenses, but there was a dramatic jump in the rate of new licensees the year before Proposition 12 was debated and passed. In 2002, the rate of increase jumped to 5.11% – well above the average rate of growth. Moreover, there is no evidence that Proposition 12 has improved overall access to care. Indeed, Texas Department of Health statistics show that in 2006, Texas gained only 639 direct care physicians – those that are actually practicing medicine – a paltry increase of just 1.8%, which is slower than it was pre-Proposition 12."  [Footnote omitted.]

* "Every underserved region in our state has seen lower average growth in the rate of new doctors in the three years since Proposition 12 passed (2004-2006), than in the three years before (2001-2003). The trend leaves only one conclusion: Proposition 12 has failed to produce the results that were promised to Texans living in underserved parts of our state."

* "The Medical Protective, the nation’s largest medical liability insurance provider, asked for a 19% rate increase one month after Proposition 12 passed. In its filing to Texas insurance regulators, the company wrote, ‘Non-economic damages are a small percentage of total losses paid. Capping non-economic damages will show loss savings of 1.0%.’" [Footnote omitted. Emphasis added.]

Read the full report for more information.

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