The consumer group Texas Watch recently ran an article about medical malpractice “tort reform” and how the actual effects of that law have been distorted by certain politicians. Here are excerpts:
Gov. Rick Perry is holding a press conference touting what his press office calls the “landmark medical malpractice legal reforms” passed a decade ago. The governor is likely to ignore key facts about the failure of these so-called “reforms” to improve the overall health or safety of Texas patients.
Politicians like Rick Perry have traded meaningful, public accountability for immunity, leaving untold numbers of Texas families to bear the financial, physical, and emotional costs of needless medical harm.
The governor and his insurance lobbyist buddies want Texans to believe that taking away the legal rights of patients has been good medicine for our state. But, the facts don’t lie. Texas ranks dead last in the quality of health care, our health care costs are soaring at a rate faster than the national average, we rank near the bottom in the number of doctors who actually see patients, and we have the highest rate of people without health insurance.
Rick Perry continues to defend this failed decade-long experiment. Texas leaders need to admit their mistakes and work to reform the health care system by putting patients – not insurance companies and lobbyists – first.
Some facts that Gov. Perry is likely to ignore during his media event:
- Physician Supply and Access to Care. Texas ranks near the bottom in the number of doctors who actually see patients and Texas persistently has the highest rate of people without health insurance. According to a 2012 academic study that looked physician supply data, legal scholars concluded: “Physician supply was not stunted prior to reform, and it did not measurably improve after reform. This is true whether one looks at the number of patient care physicians in Texas, the number of Texas physicians in high-malpractice-risk specialties, or the number of physicians per capita in Texas relative to other states.” Moreover, Governor Perry’s claims about Texas gaining doctors due to tort reform have been thoroughly investigated and determined to be outright false by the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact.
- Health Care Costs. Health care costs for Texas families and taxpayers continue to rise faster than the national average. Annual health insurance premiums paid by employees (not including employer contributions) for Texas families have increased from $1,759 in 2000 to $4,318 in 2011 – a whopping 145% increase in out-of-pocket premiums paid by Texas workers. Meanwhile, per patient Medicare spending in Texas has risen at a rate that is nearly double the national average.
- Quality of Care. A recent federal review of all 50 states finds that Texas ranks dead last in the quality of health care. Texas failed to achieve the highest ranking in any of the dozen separate categories measured by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality. More than a quarter of Texas nursing homes have been given the worst rating by federal regulators.
For a thorough review of HB 4′s impact on Texas families, read Ten Years Later: How House Bill 4 Has Harmed Texans, a report by the Texas Watch Foundation.