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Newspaper derides claim that "tort reform" resulted in savings to consumers

The editors of the Henderson Daily News in Texas published an article this month repudiating claims that adopting aggressive "tort reforms" had resulted in benefits to consumers.  The Editors pointed out that limiting victims of medical malpractice to $250,000.00, as Texas did in 2003, was touted as a means of lowering the cost of medical care and health insurance.  It was also suggested that it would make Texas a more hospitable location for doctors.  The outcome after almost nine years? Well, not so good.  Texas did not obtain a competitive advantage over other states by reason of tort reform. 

In 2008, the number of physicians per 10,000 residents in Texas ws 20.2, compared with an average of 25.7 in all fifty states. Only nine states have fewer doctors per capita.  Three years before "tort reform," Texas ranked ahead of 11 states, so it actually lost ground in competing for doctors after "reform." 

In the interim, although medical liability premiums have declined by thirty percent since patients' rights were severely limited, the cost of health insurance in Texas has actually increased relative to the cost in other states. Thus, none of this savings accruing to doctors has been passed down to their patients.  

In Texas, the average family paid $14,526 for coverage in 2010.  That is $655 more than the average family pays nationwide.  Furthermore, Texans are less likely to be covered by an employer-sponsored plan than U.S. residents generally.  While 51 percent of Texas employers offer some form of health insurance to employees, almost 54 percent of employers nationwide help their employees with health coverage.  On top of that, in Texas, employer-covered employees contribute an average of $4500 per year to their coverage, compared with an average of only $3700 per year contributed by employees in the nation generally.  The bottom-line, "tort-reform" is simply another form of special interest pleading used as an excuse to help those with money benefit from statutory enactments.  With money the prevalent force in politics, "tort reform" is simply another method by which the rich get richer at the expense of American consumers and the middle class.

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