Aaron Carroll does the intellectual garbage pickup:
Malpractice Reform in Texas: a Review\: On Sunday, Gov. Perry said:
“We’ve had the most sweeping tort reform in the nation…" asserting that as a result of the law passed in 2003, there are 20,000 more physicians in Texas. He spoke of cutting taxes and sparking the best job growth of any state in the nation.
Where to start?
A lot of what I’m going to show you comes form the good work of Public Citizen…. Let’s start with what Texas did. They capped non-economic damages on malpractice lawsuits at $250,000. It’s pretty much what they Republicans want to do with health care reform as well (see their plan). And, yes, let’s be honest and say that when you cap damages, the total cost of payments goes down…. [T]otal malpractice payments dropped by about two thirds since reform was enacted in 2003…. The contention under dispute is that capping damages will be “health care reform”. Did tort reform lower the costs of care? Not according to the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care…. It appears that Medicare costs per enrollee went up faster than the national average. In fact, Texas reimbursement rates in 2007 were the second highest in the country.
Did tort reform lower the rates of uninsurance in Texas?… Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the United States.
Did tort reform result in health insurance costs going down? Not according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality….
Did tort reform result in doctors flocking to Texas to practice? Not according to the Texas Department of State Health Services:
Gov. Perry might be accurate in that the number of physicians increased, but that’s because the total population increased. Doctors did not preferentially move there above and beyond all sorts of other people…..
If you believe that tort reform will work than you must believe that (1) it makes doctors want to practice there and (2) lowers medical costs which will then (3) lower the cost of insurance and (4) result in fewer people being uninsured. And, it seems, many of you believe Texas proves this to be true. You couldn’t be more wrong. Since tort reform, the number of doctors per population remains stable, health care costs have gone up (along with insurance costs), and the number of uninsured remains the worst in the nation.
There are probably some examples that can support the cause of tort reform, but Texas sure ain’t one of them. Please stop using it.