Texas Malpractice Caps Blasted, Defended

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , October 14, 2011

"When proponents argued for a cap it was a discussion about stabilizing insurance rates paid by healthcare providers and attracting new doctors to the state, and that has been overwhelmingly successful," Opelt says. "Never was it stated that passing these reforms would reduce the health insurance premiums for consumers."

According to the Public Citizen report, since Texas instituted its liability limits:

  • Per-enrollee Medicare spending has risen 13% faster than the national average;
  • Medicare spending specifically for outpatient services has risen 31% faster than the national average;
  • Medicare diagnostic testing expenditures have risen 26% faster than the national average;
  • Premiums for private health insurance have risen faster (52%) than the national average (50%);
  • The percentage of Texans who lack health insurance has risen to 25%, solidifying the state's dubious distinction of having the highest uninsured rate in the country;
  • The per capita increase in the number of doctors practicing has slowed to less than half its rate in the years leading up to the caps;
  • The per capita number of primary care physicians practicing in Texas has remained flat, compared to a sharp increase in the years leading up to the caps; and
  • The prevalence of physicians in non-metropolitan areas has declined.

Opelt says he cannot repudiate every statistic highlighted in the study, but he says he doesn't have to, because most of the claims – for example, rising Medicare costs, or the percentage of Texans who are uninsured -- have nothing to do with medical malpractice.

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2 comments on "Texas Malpractice Caps Blasted, Defended"

maria (4/9/2012 at 12:53 PM)
Now hospitals and physicians misdiagnose patients continuously, abuse older patients with procedures that are completely unnecessary. An older patient goes to the hospital for a bacterial infection and his treatment is so lacking that he is thrown into renal failure and of course, every thing is set up for dialysis. The amount of elderly patients on dialysis is staggering. There is a waiting list for chairs at the dialysis centers. It reminds me of what was happening in the 80s when doctors were giving hysterectomies to women as young as mid thirties. Now is dialysis for the elderly. Somebody should look into this and do something about. It is a real shame what is happening in the US.

CJ (10/14/2011 at 3:39 PM)
This is the problem: Unsubstantiated Facts. That's how the malpractice law was passed in the first place and it looks like it continues with this two page quote from Jon Opelt. TexPac, Texas Medial Association and Texas Alliance for Patient Access (nice company name, Jon. Maybe you should consider changing it to Texas Alliance for Higher Physician Incomes) built their entire malpractice campaign in 2003 on assumptions with no real hard data to back it up, and everyone bought what they were selling. Doctors fleeing Texas! (oh no!) No more OBGYNs to deliver babies! (But we love babies!) Many good things came out of the malpractice reform and one of those is a clearer process for bring suit against a possibly negligent physician. Malpractice rates were outrageous at the time, it's true. But the tactics they used to sell the malpractice reform bill were fear-based, dirty and manipulative. The Texas Medical Association and Texas Hospital Association should be ashamed for creating false fears in voters to get a law passed that, basically, simply puts more money in the physicians' pockets and offers nothing in return for Texas patients.




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