I’ve tried to make the case for tort reform — limiting frivolous lawsuits and damage awards against doctors — as a critical element in reducing the high cost of health care. But the state of Texas is in the process of proving the point. In a recent National Review article, Kevin D. Williamson reports that the Lone Star State has enacted
“… a battery of reforms, including a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases and several measures designed to keep frivolous lawsuits out of court …”
The results for Texans concerned about access to medical care?
“Texas had seen new applications decline for years, but now they’re up 60 percent…. Regions where specialists were difficult or impossible to find have attracted new talent. The number of insurance companies has increased from four to more than 30. That new competition has driven malpractice-insurance premiums down by up to 20 percent for some doctors.”
Meanwhile, I’ve read my last John Grisham book. His latest effort, The Appeal, is a ridiculously one-sided rant against tort reform that presents businesses and insurance companies as pure evil and trial lawyers as noble do-gooders. Even conservative policy groups are mocked.
Arizona’s failure to enact tort reform (vetoed by Gov. Napolitano) and to effectively slow illegal immigration, has huge consequences for the medical profession, raising costs and leading many doctors to look for a more hospitable place to practice medicine. Our current policy response has been to open a new medical school, which will result in educating new doctors in Arizona so they can take care of patients in places like Texas.
It is certainly a sad situation. I live in the rural center of Arizona and actually feel blessed that we even have Payson Regional Medical Center open up here. There is an acute doctor shortage across all specialties and an ever increasing senior population. Yet the best our Socialist/Progressive Governor can do is exascerbate the situation by making it even more difficult for those who would practice here. Perhaps it’s her small effort towards “Single Payer Socialized Healthcare”. Heaven help us.