Tort reform verdict – it doesnt work!!!

Tort reform verdict – it doesnt work!!!

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As the 2012 Presidential Election gets closer, more and more media attention is given to those whose hats have been tossed into the ring.  On a side note, why is that phrase still around?  Since Joseph Lieberman ran for President there hasn’t been a candidate who’s worn anything on top of their head aside from their artfully crafted, professionally styled hair.  Anyway, with Obama as a competent incumbent the Democrats have seen no reason to enlist another candidate for Office.  But this pre-Election season has been a circus in the GOP with candidates from all across the country jumping into the race, each espousing their political ideologies as the solution to the nation’s many crises.

When thinking about buying property, it’s all about “location, location, location.”  In terms of the pre-Nomination jungle that has characterized the last five months of the Republican Party, the issues are “economy, economy, economy.”  Many conservatives have, for a long time, relished in the notion that the institution of tort reforming policies is a necessary step toward re-building a crippled economy.  They say that with caps on damages in civil cases, especially those of a medical malpractice  nature, insurance costs will plummet and the healthcare industry will thrive, creating jobs and exploring new areas of innovation.

The only candidate with true experience putting tort reform policies into action is Gov. Rick Perry of Texas.  In 2003, he signed into a law a measure that limited damages awards in medical malpractice suits.  However, in a blow to the theory of tort reform proponents, a national report that was released this past week says that the law has actually caused health care spending to rise and it has not significantly increased the number of doctors in Texas as it was intended to.

The report, a 24-page exploratory examination by the nonprofit consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, appropriately titled “A Failed Experiment,” asserted that the Texas tort reform model benefits doctors and insurance companies as opposed to the residents of the state (the insurance subscribers and patients).  The report found that private health insurance premiums, as well as Medicare spending, have risen at a faster rate than that of the national average.  In addition, increase in number of doctors practicing in Texas has slowed significantly ever since the 2003 law was passed (it has gone from 9.3% to 4.2%).

Gov. Perry has, on the campaign trail, touted his 2003 law as a model of success that should be implemented in the federal level.  In support of his legislative measure, he has said that since the passing of the law, 21,000 new physicians have joined the work force in Texas.  The report recognizes this figure as misleading, because only 12,788 of those physicians are practicing, and the increase is due to a spike in population growth, not the constricting tort reform law.

The most startling result of the 2003 law is that there are a higher percentage of uninsured Texans now than there were before the law was passed – and that’s the basis of tort reform, isn’t it?  To make insurance more affordable and available?  The fact is that not only do tort reform laws unfairly limit the amount of compensation that a victim is entitled to, but they place a financial burden on the residents of the state – because of tort reform, more doctors will get away with practicing rogue medicine and more people will become uninsured.

This is not to say that Gov. Perry’s tort reform approach is ill-intended.  It’s just ill-advised and ill-informed.

If you have any questions about tort reform or any other legal matter, please contact the Law Offices of Aronberg & Aronberg at 561-266-9191 or email us at daronberg@aronbeglaw.com.