May 11, 2006
The Senate is once again taking up the issue of medical justice reform. If senators want to expand access to health care by increasing the number of physicians and lowering costs, they need to look at Texas, say Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House and founder of the Center for Health Transformation, and John T. Gill, an orthopedic surgeon in Dallas.
In the summer of 2003 the Texas legislature enacted important medical litigation reform. A voter-approved constitutional amendment, Proposition 12, followed later that year to solidify the changes:
- After years of losing doctors, Texas has added nearly 4,000 since the passage of Proposition 12, including many in underserved specialties.
- Insurance premiums to protect against frivolous lawsuits have declined dramatically, with the state's largest carrier reporting declines up to 22 percent and other carriers reducing premiums by an average of 13 percent; the number of lawsuits filed against doctors has been cut almost in half.
- Medically underserved counties in Texas are benefiting as well; Jefferson, Webb and Victoria Counties, as well as the counties of Cameron and Hidalgo in the Rio Grande Valley, have all experienced an influx of physicians.
The legislation to be considered by the Senate would ensure more predictability in our justice system by reining in the most egregious abuses by personal injury lawyers. According to Gingrich and Gill, proper medical justice reform plays a central role in ensuring the availability and affordability of health care for families everywhere and our elected officials should not underestimate how deeply this issue resonates with the American people.
Source: Newt Gingrich and John T. Gill, "Prodigal State," Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2006.
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