Tuesday a federal judge ruled that a 2003 Texas law that puts a limit on pain and suffering compensation in health care lawsuits is constitutional. The ruling came down after a court case claimed that it was unconstitutional for a cap to be placed on the compensation that was put in place by the Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform Act of 2003, which was passed in response to an influx in medical lawsuits. Texas is among 26 other states that have similar legislation.
According to the 2003 Act, the maximum that a person suffering from injuries such as emotional scarring, loss of companionship, and mental distress will be capped between $250,000 to $750,000. The Texas Alliance for Patient Access (TAPA), defenders of the Act, remind that there is still no cap on medical costs and lost wages.
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2008 by 10 plaintiffs. Health care providers supporting the cap and the more than 600 Texas judges necessary to impose the compensation limits were named as defendants in the suit. The plaintiffs claim that the Act doesn’t violate the Texas state constitution but rather the US constitution, which would make it deserving to be decided in federal court.
The US District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall dismissed the lawsuit’s claim that putting a cap on pain and suffering damages takes away an individual’s private property, which they assert is unconstitutional since it keeps money from the person that they may be entitled to.
The Texas Hospital Association also backs the ruling, claiming that they 2003 Reform Act improved health care access for Texans, and allowed for savings from “reduced liability insurance coverage” that has been rolled back into the hospitals in forms of new technologies and expanded services.
According to the release, the cap was supported by Texas voters as well.
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Source. PR Newswire, “http://www.bizjournals.com/prnewswire/press_releases/2012/03/27/DC77819,” March 27, 2012.