Consumer watchdog group Public Citizen claims in a new report (PDF) that the medical malpractice caps that Texas approved in 2003 have not slowed the growth of healthcare expenditures, made health insurance less expensive or had a marked effect on the number of physicians practicing in the state, as the caps' proponents had predicted.
Texas med-mal caps haven't cut costs: group
The Washington consumer advocacy group contends that Medicare Parts A and B spending per beneficiary in Texas increased at a faster rate after the caps took effect. According to its analysis of Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care data, spending on Part B (outpatient and some post-acute care) in Texas grew 42.8% from 2003 to 2007 (the latest year available), compared with 30.7% nationally over that period. Public Citizen contends that Part B spending should have grown more slowly in Texas if malpractice caps eliminated defensive medicine.
Private insurance premiums in Texas increased 51.7% from 2003 to 2010, versus 50% nationally over that period, according to the report.
The rate of uninsured residents in Texas increased from 23.6% to 24.6% between 2003 and 2010—the highest rate in the nation in both years, although the national rate increased more over that period, from 14.6% to 16.3%. The report also notes that the rate of growth in physicians per capita in Texas slowed after the caps; no national data was presented for comparison.
Medical malpractice premiums have fallen 50.5%, while payouts for malpractice claims have fallen 65%, both from 2003 to 2010, according to the report. Public Citizen contends that this has led to a windfall for malpractice insurers. Nationally, malpractice payouts have declined 39.9% over that period.
The Texas Medical Association has been a leading proponent of the efficacy of the caps. A spokeswoman could not be reached immediately.
Send us a letter