TX may change medical malpractice law

In 2003, Texas approved a constitutional amendment limiting non-economic damage in medical liability cases to $250,000 for physicians. Since then, liability insurance rates have fallen and doctors have flowed into the state, changes physicians attribute to the 2003 med mal reforms, which limit non-economic damages, but don't cap economic awards. In fact, Texas physicians have seen a 24 percent overall drop in medical liability rates since 2003. And medical license applications jumped 58 percent since 2003, from 2,561 to 4,041.

Now, however, opponents of the cap have taken their case to federal court, asking to have it declared unconstitutional. They're arguing, among other things, that the Texas law violates patients' jury trial and due process rights by setting an arbitrary recovery limit. The case is now pending in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

These opponents argue that any proposed benefits from access to care from caps shouldn't trump patients' legal rights. Meanwhile, they note that prior to the 2003 caps, many carriers had increased rates by as much as 150 percent, a rise that hasn't even been covered yet.

To learn more about this initiative:
- read this AMNews item

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