Academic research by University of Texas, University of Illinois and Northwestern University demonstrates malpractice "reforms" did not increase doctor supply
A recent study by three highly-respected Universities demonstrated that the wholesale "reforms" [anti-victim limitations on medical negligence recoveries] adopted in the State of Texas had NO impact on the supply of doctors in the state. The study concluded that the supply of physicians operating in the state was relatively "inelastic" and not influenced by steps taken to protect doctors from negligence claims.
The authors concluded that their research was consistent with prior multi-state studies showing that there is no relationship between "tort reform" and physician supply. Even though special interest-Republican "reforms...dramatically changed the malpractice environment..." in Texas, they did not have any impact on the number of doctors in practice--even in poorer rural areas or high-risk specialties.
The authors also found that the "reforms" did not influence health care costs in the state. On the contrary, studies in Texas have shown that the major influence on health care costs in Texas is "fee for service" medicine and physician-ownership of ancillary services they can charge to provide. Lastly, the authors noted that insurance companies have fought "tooth and nail" to eliminate public access to reliable claims data which the National Association of Insurance Commissioners has attempted to create: without this data, the authors indicated it would have been impossible to ascertain the true impact of "reforms" such as those undertaken in Texas.
The authors explicitly pointed out that there was no factual support for "reformers' " claims that the lack of a cap on malpractice awards deterred doctors from practicing in Texas or that adopting a cap had increased the number of practicing doctors. Supply was not stunted before reform and did not measurably improve after--even in so-called "high risk" specialties. Neither did it influence health care costs by eliminating or limiting the practice of "defensive medicine." The article is entitled "Does Tort Reform Affect Physician Supply? Evidence From Texas." It can be downloaded at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2047433.