The consumer group Texas Watch issued a press release this month that seems to validate the warnings so many of us made before Texas voters fell for the insurance companies’ propaganda and saddled us with the onerous Proposition 12 in 2003. Here is the press release:
Underserved Areas Still Struggle to Attract New Doctors, Medical Liability Premiums Still Inflated, Patients Still at Risk
AUSTIN — Texas Watch, a statewide consumer advocacy organization released a new report today entitled The False Choice: Doctors or Accountability, which details the impact that the constitutional amendment known as Proposition12 has had on Texas patients.
Proposition 12, passed in 2003, placed arbitrarily strict limits on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. As a result, many patients have seen their ability to hold a negligent doctor or hospital accountable severely limited if not altogether eliminated.
Voters were told by the insurance industry and their special interest groups that they had to choose between access to health care and their constitutional protections. Texas Watch’s report details how this was a false choice because Texans should be able to have access to a quality, affordable health care system, as well as open access to our courts.
The report notes that despite the loss of their legal rights, Texas patients have not seen the improvements they were promised.
- Underserved areas remain underserved. Rural, remote, and indigent regions of Texas have seen a decrease in the rate of new doctors since Prop 12 passed.
- More counties do not have an obstetrician. Today more counties in Texas do not have an obstetrician than before Proposition 12 passed.
- Medical liability insurance premiums remain inflated. Despite marginal reductions, doctors are still paying dramatically higher premiums than they were just a few years before Proposition 12 passed.
- Texas has the highest rate of citizens without health insurance. 25% of Texans do not have health insurance, the highest rate of uninsured among the 20 largest states.
In addition to these failures, Texas patients face an ongoing threat of medical negligence with little, if any, avenue to hold those who cause needless injury or death accountable. The report includes several profiles of individuals and families who have been devastated by medical negligence since Proposition 12’s passage.
The report illustrates how Texas misdiagnosed the health care dilemma. Instead of punishing patients and rewarding the few bad doctors who are responsible for most of the medical malpractice payments, lawmakers should pass real legal reforms that beef up patient safety standards, kick bad doctors out of the medical community, and enact comprehensive insurance reform that cracks down on insurance overcharges.