Tort Reform Editorial Sets the Record Straight

In the Sunday, November 22, 2009 edition of the Houston Chronicle, Jennifer Bard writes a very factual opinion piece on the lack of proof that tort reform reduces health costs. Dr. Bard is the Alvin R. Allison Professor of Law and the director of the Health Law Program at Texas Tech University School of Law. She is also the adjunct associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Texas Tech School of Medicine. Her premise is actually quit simple:

•1. Texas enacted some of the most comprehensive and restrictive medical malpractice restrictions of any state in the country in 2003.

•2. Current proponents of protections for health care providers (also called “tort reform” for doctors) believe these “tort reform” protections will lower the cost of health care and make it a more affordable system for everyone and allow more patients to be covered by insurance.

•3. Texas doctors should be paying much more affordable medical malpractice premiums for the insurance they buy to cover their medical mishaps.

•4. Thus, Texas should have some of the most affordable health care in the country, and we should have a large segment of our population covered by medical insurance.

So does this hypothesis have any basis in reality? The undisputed answer in Texas is NO! The health care protections passed in 2003 have NOT lowered the cost of health care in Texas. The health care protections that passed in 2003 have NOT increased our insurance covered citizens. The health care protections that passed in 2003 have NOT lowered malpractice protection premiums for doctors. In fact the exact opposite is true.

So the reality is that insurance companies continue to push this agenda to the top of their propaganda war, and the message continues to take hold among those who are uninformed about all of the facts. The people who are victims of medical malpractice mistakes are the ones who actually suffer the most as a result of losing this propaganda war, as they simply do not have the resources to compete with the medial teams hired by the insurance companies. Thus people are hurt. Doctors continue to be pawns of the insurance companies. And insurance companies continue to brag about their enormous profits.

A change needs to be made! Texas needs to reexamine the 2003 changes and determine how to protect our people – not these mammoth insurance companies who look solely at their bottom line.