NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 14, 2009

To hear federal officials tell it, they've got all the answers on health care.  This is troubling, since states have shown they know a thing or two about solving problems that affect their citizens.  In fact, Texas stands as a good example of how smart, responsible policy can help us take major steps toward fixing a damaged medical system, starting with legal reform, says Governor Rick Perry (R-Texas).

Just six years ago, Texas was mired in a health care crisis.  Doctors were leaving the state, or abandoning the profession entirely, because of frivolous lawsuits and the steadily increasing medical malpractice insurance premiums that resulted.

Instead of throwing money at the problem or debating endlessly, we identified the root causes and decided to do something about it, says Perry:

  • Non-economic damages were capped at $250,000 per defendant, or up to $750,000 per incident, while placing no cap on more easily determined economic damages.
  • The practice of allowing baseless lawsuits to drag on indefinitely was ended, requiring plaintiffs to provide expert witness reports to support their claims within four months of filing suit or drop the case.

Changes were seen immediately and continue to be felt, says the Perry:

  • More than 10 new insurance carriers entered the Texas market, increasing competition and further lowering costs.
  • As a result, Texas doctors have seen their insurance rates decline by, on average, 27 percent.
  • The number of doctors applying to practice medicine in Texas has skyrocketed by 57 percent.

In all, in just the first five years after reforms passed, 14,498 doctors either returned to practice in Texas or began practicing here for the first time.

Instead of handing down "one size fits all" mandates, Washington should be enabling states to set their own agendas when it comes to health care, says Perry.

Source: Rick Perry, "Gov. Rick Perry: Tort Reform must be part of health care reform," Washington Examiner, August 13, 2009.


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