NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

THE DOCTORS ARE IN

July 17, 2007

There has been an alarming trend of doctors fleeing states that are trial lawyer playgrounds.  Texas is not one of them.  Thanks to its sane limits on malpractice lawsuits, the state is a physician magnet, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

Consider:

  • Four years ago, through a constitutional amendment, Texas capped noneconomic damages in medical malpractice suits.
  • Subsequently, there has been a 21 percent drop in the average malpractice insurance premium.

The result:

  • The Texas Medical Board received 4,000 applications for medical licenses last year, a 33 percent increase over 2005.
  • Applications jumped 88 percent from the first half of 2003 to the first half of 2006
  • The deluge of applicants ensures that the Texas board can choose the best doctors to practice there; it will also give Texans more choice.

Residents of other states aren't so fortunate, says IBD.  For example:

  • The University of Nevada Medical Center in Las Vegas, the only Level 1 trauma facility in the region, shut down for 10 days in 2002 when specialists resigned due to high insurance costs.
  • The early part of this decade saw doctors leaving their practices in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and West Virginia, because of the legal environment.
  • The American Medical Association named Washington a "crisis" state in 2005 because physicians weary with soaring insurance premiums were leaving or cutting back their practices.

Don't blame the insurers, either.  They're forced to raise rates to cover their costs when plaintiffs' lawyers are winning absurdly large jury awards in states where there are no limits, says IBD.  Blame lawmakers who are less interested in curbing freewheeling malpractice lawsuits than in raking in trial lawyers' campaign contributions.

Source: Editorial, "The Doctors Are In," Investor's Business Daily, July 13, 2007.

 

Browse more articles on Health Issues