The tort reform efforts put into place in Texas made national news over the last year as Texas Governor Rick Perry ran for President highlighting these “reform” efforts. As with most arguments about this legislation, our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers know that the measure passed in Texas in large part on claims about “cost savings.” However, a recent Fox DFW story explains how many Texas families are trying to set the record state on what the real effect of these measures have been.
While it sounds great to suggest that these laws eliminate “frivolous” lawsuits and keep costs down, the reality is far different. For one thing, the real effect is that many meritorious claims cannot be brought to court because the costs associated with the case would swallow any award. In other words, it would be too expensive for the families to pursue justice even in legitimate cases because the laws were drawn so unfavorably to plaintiffs. Medical malpractice continues without any redress or accountability in these cases. Care for all residents is therefore demonstratively worse as a result.
That is what makes the claims about these laws so frustrating. For example, in Texas, the state Constitution was changed to cap non-economic damage awards. In commercials supporting the ballot measure, the Governor and his wife claimed that the proposition “protects your family.” But it remains unclear how the measure has done anything but hurt families.
Now families who have lost loved ones as a result of medical errors are often forced to simply deal with it, without any chance at real redress or accountability in a courtroom. Thousands of families that otherwise would have been able to seek basis justice for the harms suffered as a result of clear negligence were made quantitatively worse as a result of the law. Each Chicago medical malpractice lawyer understands that, unfortunately, most families don’t appreciate what this means until they find themselves on the wrong end of poor care.
So how were these laws supposed to “protect all families?”
The suggestion was that medical malpractice limits would lead to lower malpractice insurance premium costs which would be translated into cheaper healthcare prices for all patients.
Has that occurred?
Of course not.
For example, according to Public Citizen, insurance premiums for regular citizens have not fallen at all since reforms in Texas and in most other places where these laws have passed. In fact, in Texas, health insurance increases have spiked in recent years, beyond the national average. There is simply zero credible evidence that consumers see any benefit at all from these measures.
So who does benefit?
Some doctors have seen their malpractice premiums decrease. However, the total decrease is far lower than suggested before the law passed. And regardless, the lower malpractice premiums have never translated into cheaper medical care for patients. Prices stay the same and the health industry makes more money. The same is true for the insurance companies. They may offer modest cuts after these laws pass, but the premium cuts are not proportional to the payout savings. Not by a long shot.
In other words, these laws have clearly shown to provide more money for insurance companies and health conglomerates. Regular community members get nothing from these laws. They lose important accountability measures and safety mechanisms to keep them safe and provide redress when errors are made.
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