On July 27, I wrote for the third time about the real facts on the severe limits imposed in Texas on medical malpractice lawsuits. This week, Terry Lowry, host of the nationally syndicated What’s Up radio program, interviewed Alex Winslow, Executive Director of Texas Watch, about the results of the virtual elimination of those lawsuits through a constitutional amendment.
Mr. Winslow discussed the promise made to voters in Texas in 2003 that individual and overall health care costs would be reduced as a result of the limits in medmal lawsuits. But state and family costs (premiums and out-of-pocket costs) have risen and the state’s cost of health care is rising faster than national average, the exact opposite of what was promised. Texans were promised that giving away their right to hold wrongdoers responsible in a civil jury trial would result in lower costs.
Texans were also promised that that the quality and access to care would improve, and by every measure those promises have also been broken. The access to health care – the number of doctors – has not increased at all in rural and poor areas, such as in the Rio Grande Valley. The AMA still ranks Texas in the mid-40s in the number of physicians per capita, so the influx of doctors in Texas hasn’t kept up with the increase in state population. Meanwhile, according to Mr. Winslow, the Texas Medical Board, which is supposed to sanction bad doctors, is neither acting more quickly nor sufficiently sanctioning the small percentage of dangerous doctors in Texas. For instance, the TMA doesn’t run background checks on doctors moving from another state; a doctor practicing in Corpus Christi apparently left Minnesota in a hurry after leaving a trail of medmal claims.
You can listen to the first segment of the interview here, the second segment here, and the third segment here.