This letter to the editor was published in the online version of the Wall Street Journal today:
A few years back, insurance lobbyists rammed through legal changes that were designed to severely limit the legal rights of Texas patients. We heard high-falutin’ rhetoric promising dramatic improvements in the cost, quality and access of health care in our state. None of the promised improvements have been realized, but that hasn’t stopped special interest think tanks from spinning an intricate yarn in their futile attempt to justify the rights they stole from Texas families (“Cross Country: Why Doctors Are Heading for Texas,” May 17 and “Tort Reform Will Rescue Doctors,” Letters, June 6).
What has really happened? 1) Health-care costs have risen dramatically in Texas, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; 2) AMA statistics show that we rank lower in per-capita physicians today than we did just a few years ago; 3) Rural and underserved areas continue to struggle to attract new physicians; 4) Texas continues to have the nation’s highest rate of uninsured.
The reality is that none of this has been or ever will be fixed by taking away the legal rights of patients or their families. Unless we move beyond the insurance industry’s talking points and enact real reforms that protect patients, strengthen safety standards and restore accountability, we will continue to be plagued by an inadequate health-care system that does more for insurance companies than it does for patients.
N. Alex Winslow