The state of Texas is often used as a poster child for the benefits of passing “tort reform” legislation. Our Chicago birth injury attorneys continuously advocate against these proposals which take many forms, all of which benefit medical interests and insurance companies at the expense of those hurt by medical malpractice–including those suffering birth injuries.
In Texas a 2003 constitutional amendment limited legal rights of those hurt by medical malpractice in the state. Arbitrary caps were placed on certain cases so that, no matter what actually happened or what a jury deemed fair, victims of the negligence were limited in their legal recovery.
Proponents of the measure argued vociferously that the amendment was needed to lower healthcare costs in the state. Of course, healthcare costs are a significant burden on many family budgets. As a result, it is logical for these families to support different proposals which would lower those costs. No doubt those purported benefits were are the heart of much support of the constitutional amendment to enact damage caps.
Recently, nearly ten years later, researchers investigated the data to get an idea of exactly what effect the tort reform law had. The results? Depressing but not surprising.
The experts examined healthcare spending information from Medicare in various Texas counties between 2002 and 2009. They found, contrary to claims made in 2003, no evidence that healthcare costs in the state dipped–or even slowed down–following the tort reform efforts. The results were published in this month’s edition of the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys are not surprised by the findings. We frequently share information which shows that claims made by those pursuing these laws bear little connection to reality.
This latest research endeavor comes on the heels of a Public Citizen study which actually found that Texas Medicare spending rose considerably following passage of tort reform laws.
Countering this reality, tort reform proponents now argued that they never thought caps would lower healthcare costs. Instead, they claim that the purpose was to drive more doctors to the state. But are those claims genuine?
As we’ve previously discussed, a new study into doctor rates in the state recently found that not only did the tort reform law not cause more doctors to practice in the state, but there was not a mass exodus even before the law as was claimed.
Our birth injury lawyers appreciate that this is yet more evidence of the disconnect between claims made by those attacking the civil justice system and the honest truth. Popular claims are often made when trying to garner public support for these measures, including suggestions that healthcare costs would go down. Those arguments are used not because they are true but because they are popular.
In many ways this is an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the general public, allowing basic legal rights to be taken away to benefit already large, successful companies. If proponents were honest about the effects of tort reform, then the bills would not have much public support.
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