We’ve previously discussed the Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform Act passed in 2003. This act placed a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages that a malpractice victim could recover. It’s been a controversial issue since it was passed and for good reason – it hasn’t worked. Those that opposed the legislation believed it favored insurance companies over patients and wouldn’t have the benefits it promised. Turns out they were right.
The malpractice tort reform was intended to lower the cost of health care and attract more doctors to Texas. The rationality was that doctors, terrified of being slapped with million dollar malpractice suits, were performing multiple unnecessary tests or practicing ‘defensive medicine’ in order to safeguard themselves from misdiagnosis or negligence claims.
All these extra tests were believed to be driving up health costs. But, nearly ten years later and the malpractice reform has done nothing to reduce costs. In fact, costs have increased, making Texas’ health care costs some of the highest in the country. The only thing that has declined in Texas is the quality of care, which the federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality ranks the worst in the nation.
What about all these new doctors that would be flooding Texas? Think about how dangerous a concept it is to welcome physicians who are only entering Texas because they’re shielded against malpractice suits. Doctors should be in our state because they want to give Texans the best care possible, not because they know they won’t be sued if they don’t.
Malpractice suits reduce risks by holding medical professionals accountable, and with medical errors taking the lives of more than 98,000 people a year, accountability should be a top priority. But the simplest challenge to the notion that tort reforms would bring us more doctors is the fact that the number of new physicians in Texas has actually slowed since the law was passed.
If malpractice victims are the ones suffering under these reforms, who’s benefiting? The Center for Progressive Reform said it plainly: ‘Restricting lawsuits might save doctors a negligible amount on malpractice premiums but the vast majority of any saving will most certainly line the pockets of the insurance companies demanding these restrictions.’
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Insurance companies will use a limitless amount of tactics to pay you as little as possible when you’ve been injured. To fight back and get what you really deserve, get an injury attorney who isn’t intimidated by big insurance and has a proven track record on settling injury claims.
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Source. CNN.com, ‘http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/12/health/medical-malpractice/index.html,’ Mary Alice McLarty, October 12, 2012.
Source. Statesman.com, ‘http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/new-study-tort-reform-has-not-reduced-health-care-/nRpcp/,’ Mary Ann Roser, June 20, 2012.