IMPROVING ACCESS TO CARE

REFORMS PRODUCE DRAMATIC GAINS IN ACCESS TO CARE

Because of lawsuit reforms passed eleven years ago, doctors are flocking to Texas in record number, returning to the emergency rooms and again taking complex cases. According to an October 5, 2007 New York Times article (“More Doctors in Texas After Malpractice Caps”) “doctors are arriving from all parts of the country to swell the ranks of specialists at Texas hospitals and bring professional health care to some long underserved rural areas.”

 

For the first time in memory, the Catholic-owned CHRISTUS Health System with hospitals, long-term care facilities, and clinics in more than 60 Texas  cities has no openings system wide for obstetricians. In recent months, doctors with mature practices from Illinois, Maryland, Utah, Alabama, and Beverly Hills, California have relocated to Corpus Christi. These newbies aren’t flunkies and they aren’t doctors with a history of liability problems. To the contrary, they are the best and brightest, including a Duke-trained trauma center director from New York City who moved to Corpus Christi because of the state’s more reasonable medical liability climate.

 

Healthy gains for Texas patients and their communities

TAPA chair Dr. Howard Marcus and TMA CEO Lou Goodman review the healthy gains in the number of new Texas doctors since the passage of medical lawsuit reform. The accelerated growth in the number of new direct patient care physicians represents the opportunity for 10.5 million more patient visits annually and a $1.8 billion economic impact.

Voters in Texas passed Proposition 12

The Pampa News

March 10, 2007

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Influx of Doctors Overwhelms Texas Board

Three years ago, voters in Texas passed Proposition 12, which gave the state legislature authority to set limits on non-economic damages awarded to plaintiffs in civil lawsuits against physicians.

Many people thought this was necessary because the rates for malpractice insurance kept rising and were getting too high, but this caused a problem for the Texas Medical Board which has to process applications from out-of-state doctors seeking a Texas license.

Unlike most states, Texas is adding high-risk and primary care doctors faster than the rate of population growth, which is an incredible accomplishment when one considers that Texas has one of the fastest growing populations in the nation and is the most populous of the fast growth states.

 

Since the passage of reforms, 50 Texas counties have added their first emergency medicine physician. The ranks of rural obstetricians have grown by 26 percent. Thirty-one rural counties have added an obstetrician . Twenty-four rural counties have added a cardiologist and seventeen have added an orthopedic surgeon. Because of tort reform, more patients can now get the timely and specialized care they need closer to home.

 

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. Without reforms and the attendant liability savings, these achievements would have been impossible.

Influx of doctors lured to Texas

San Antonio Express-News

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

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Flood of Physicians into Texas is “like Interstate 35 at 5 p.m.”

An influx of doctors lured to Texas by new limits on malpractice lawsuits has overwhelmed the state board that screens candidates for medical licenses, creating a backlog that forces many applicants to wait months before they can start seeing patients.

Hospital expansions, coupled with the influx of 15,000 new doctors, have increased employment and tax revenues throughout our state. Liability costs have been saved, easing funding demands for community hospitals, county health systems, women’s, charity, and inner city clinics.

 

Those 297 doctors new to the Rio Grande Valley equate to 297 new small businesses, providing jobs to Valley residents and needed care to a growing population.

 

Texas tort reform has kept doctors in practice, in the emergency room and in the examination room treating sick and injured patients. And for all their misdirection and hyperbole, the trial lawyer can’t explain that away.

 

Because of medical lawsuit reform Dr. David Cantu has re-instituted his obstetrical practice in Fredericksburg.

 

Pediatric neurosurgeon Timothy George relocated his practice from North Carolina and credits tort reform with attracting him and his sought-after-specialty to Austin. Says Dr. George, “Texas made it easier to practice and easier to take care of complex patients.”

Texas voted in 2003 for Proposition 12

Houston Chronicle

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

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Licensing logjam. End needless delays keeping new physicians from giving Texans the health care they need.

Texans voted in 2003 for Proposition 12, which imposed a limit on doctors’ medical liability, after proponents promised the measure would alleviate the “crisis” in medical malpractice insurance and thus ensure broad access to health care for patients.

George Rodriguez walks today thanks to tort reform. Newly established Corpus Christi neurosurgeon Matthew Alexander urgently operated on Rodriguez’ spinal abscess, relieving the paralysis in his legs, and, in so doing, spared him life in a wheel chair. Without the state’s lawsuit limits, Dr. Alexander says he wouldn’t have relocated to Texas thus depriving Mr. Rodriguez access to emergency neurosurgery in Corpus Christi.

 

Cancer survivor Ruby Collins credits newly-minted Brownwood urologist Daniel Alstatt with saving her life. Dr. Alstatt says he wouldn’t have moved to Brownwood, population 19,000, if it weren’t for tort reform.

 

Thanks to the passage of lawsuits reforms, critical care services are now more readily available in many Texas communities. A few years ago a Central Texas man, George Kuempel, fell from an oak tree and broke his back. Nine hours later in a city 65 miles away, Kuempel finally got the specialized care he needed. One would have thought that a city of Austin’s size would have a spine surgeon readily available when urgently needed. Truth is there were too few neurosurgeons caring for a growing population in Travis and the surrounding counties. So, Kuempel was flown to Scott & White Hospital in Temple for surgery.

 

That unfortunate event occurred prior to passage of the state’s medical lawsuit reforms. Since then, Austin has added two neurosurgeons and several of the remaining neurosurgeons are again taking emergency calls.

Texas Medical Board to process applications to practice.

The New York Time

October 5, 2007

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More Doctors in Texas After
Malpractice Caps

In Texas, it can be a long wait for a doctor: up to six months.

That is not for an appointment. That is the time it can take the Texas Medical Board to process applications to practice.

P. O. Box 684157  |  Austin, Texas 78768-4157 | 2301 South Capital of Texas Highway, Building J-101  |  Austin, Texas 78746  |  512.703.2156  |  Fax: 512.703.2050