A new study conducted in part by the University of Texas law professor, Charles Silver, found no evidence that healthcare costs in Texas declined after a 2003 constitutional amendment capping medical malpractice damage awards. The study examined Medicare spending in Texas and found no reduction in doctor fees for seniors and disabled patients between 2002 and 2009. In 2003 a tort reform campaign was successful in capping damage awards in malpractice lawsuits. Supporters of this tort reform claimed that capping malpractice lawsuits would reduce insurance costs for doctors and thereby lower costs for patients and increase their access to doctors.
Of note, less than a year ago a Ralph Nader founded consumer group, Public Citizen, said it determined Medicare spending in Texas increased greater than the national average following tort reform.
Another study conducted by a professor Silver group, confirms that malpractice suits and payouts significantly dropped after tort reform. However, the study disputes claims of mass exodus of Texas physicians prior to tort reform and huge increases following.
The findings should be compared with complaints by some Texas residents who claim they cannot find an attorney to pursue malpractice cases because of the $750,000.00 cap on non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, disfigurement and mental anguish. Given the high cost of litigation in medical negligence cases the cap on damages makes litigation cost prohibitive.