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Alvin Wolff Jr. & Associates

Tort Reform law in Texas does not lower health care costs


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10/13/2011
Alvin Wolff Jr.
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     A recent national study has shown that the tort reform in Texas has not led to lower health care costs.  In fact, the results showed that health care spending has gone up.  Furthermore, the study showed that the rate of new doctors practicing in the state has slowed down since the law was enacted.
     Tort reform, the basic title for laws being enacted across the country to limit the amount that can be awarded by verdicts in medical malpractice suits, has been touted as what needs to be done to lower health care costs and save doctors' jobs.  The idea was, and is, that placing caps on malpractice rewards would lead to lower insurance premiums for doctors, a saving that would filter down to the consumer.  This simply has not been the case as proven by the law in Texas. 

     According to an article at http://www.statesman.com, the report comes as Gov. Rick Perry has touted the benefits of the law on the presidential campaign trail, boasting that it has added 21,000 Texas doctors - a claim the report disputes.  The 24-page report by Public Citizen, "A Failed Experiment," says that using Texas as a model would benefit doctors and insurers - not residents.  The report claims that Medicare spending in Texas has risen faster than the national average, and so have private health insurance premiums. It also says that, contrary to Perry's claims, the per capita increase in the number of doctors practicing in the state has been much slower since the state passed the so-called tort reform law than it was before the law.

     The report by Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, examines the number of direct patient care and primary care doctors in Texas between 1996 and 2010. It says that in the seven years before the lawsuit limits, the per capita number of doctors increased by 9.3 percent. In the seven subsequent years, the increase was 4.2 percent.

     Perry's 21,000 figure was disputed by a PolitiFact check, which Public Citizen cited. PolitiFact said that Perry was counting all physicians licensed in Texas - the number actually practicing was 12,788 - since 2003. Experts said most of that increase was due to population growth, not tort reform.
      For more information on this story, please visit http://www.statesman.com/news/local/report-texas-tort-law-has-failed-to-reduce-1910690.html?cxtype=ynews_rss.



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