Texas Alliance for Patient Access is a statewide coalition of doctors, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and physician liability insurers.
TAPA was formed in 2001 with a singular goal: improving access to health care through enactment and preservation of meaningful medical lawsuit reforms. Among its members are Texas Medical Association, Texas Hospital Association, various nursing home organizations and more than 250 healthcare providers from throughout the state. TAPA is widely regarded as the lead negotiator and unified voice of the Texas healthcare community on medical liability matters.
TAPA successfully lobbied for the passage of Texas’ 2003 landmark medical liability reforms, including a non-economic damage cap, and a constitutional amendment protecting that cap. Other key components of the reform package include sweeping expert witness requirements, periodic payment of future damages, emergency care protections, expansion of Good Samaritan laws and a restatement of Texas’ long-standing wrongful death cap. Passage of these reforms have substantially reduced lawsuits and liability costs, and have increased the number of doctors practicing in the state; especially pediatric, geriatric and high-risk specialists.
In 2003, TAPA representatives told the Legislature with the passage of tort reform Texas would:
1. Stop the exodus of physicians who were retiring, moving out-of-state, giving up delivering babies and emergency room privileges or referring high-risk cases to avoid a career threatening lawsuit.
2. Attract new physicians to the state; especially high-risk specialists.
3. Stabilize insurance markets.
4. Stimulate competition by attracting new liability carriers to the state.
5. Drive down liability premiums by reducing claims losses.
Each of those promises and prophecies have come to pass; some even earlier than we had anticipated.
Because of reforms doctors are flocking to Texas in record number, returning to the emergency rooms, taking complex cases and establishing practices in medically underserved areas of the state. This has allowed more patients to get the timely and specialized care they need closer to home. Since the passage of reforms, nursing homes have been able to find and afford liability coverage. Hospitals have re-invested their liability savings into new technology, patient care and patient safety and have increased charity care by more than $100 million dollars annually.
Hospital expansions, coupled with the influx of more than 20,000 new doctors, have increased employment and tax revenues throughout the state. Liability costs have been saved, easing funding demands for community hospitals, county health systems, women’s, charity, and inner city clinics.
TAPA is often asked to testify at legislative hearings and has filed forty-one “friend of the court” briefs protecting legislative intent of the 2003 reforms.
In 2005, in an effort to avoid judicial guesswork, TAPA went to the extraordinary step of producing a 350-page law review article that was published by the Texas Tech School of Law.
This “legislative intent roadmap” is intended as an objective research tool and serves as a guide for attorneys, as well as judges at all levels, to understand and properly apply the wide-ranging 2003 laws.