In 2003, a Texas constitutional amendment severely capped the damages plaintiffs could receive from medical malpractice lawsuits. Supporters of the amendment and of tort reform argued at the time that it would help bring down health care costs by lowering insurance costs for doctors.
If this argument were true, we should have starting seeing lower health care costs in Texas a while ago. Quite the contrary, ever since the new law, research has repeatedly shown that Texas has one of the highest health care costs in the nation, and it’s only getting worse as time goes on.
A new university study has once again found zero evidence that health care costs in Texas have fallen since the 2003 amendment. Between 2002 and 2009, there was absolutely no reduction in doctors' fees for seniors and disabled patients. And in fact, Medicare spending has gone way up in the state since tort reform, at rates that are actually 1 to 2% higher than in other states.
If there is no reduction in health care costs, and actually a rise, how are patients benefitting from damage caps? The answer is that they’re not. The sad fact is that the only ones truly benefitting from tort reform are the insurance companies, who are more than happy to limit the amounts they pay out in cases of malpractice and keep on charging doctors more and more every year for their malpractice insurance.