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Dallas Morning News: Malpractice Caps Not Reducing Health Costs

Today’s Dallas Morning News ran a story that looked at whether the cost of health care has declined since the adoption of Texas’s medical malpractice caps.  The evidence concludes that the caps aren’t reducing health care costs for consumers.

Six years after the caps were passed, the doctors have enjoyed lower insurance rates (though rates haven’t decreased as much as they rocketed up shortly before the caps were passed) and Texas has more doctors (though, again, there is debate about why the numbers have increased), but consumers aren’t getting any additional relief.  In Texas, health insurance premiums continue to rise dramatically, and Medicare spending, an bellweather for medical costs, have increased dramatically.

And Texas isn’t alone.  The Dallas Morning News article cites a study by University of Alabama researchers that looked at 27 states, including Texas, that had caps on non-economic damages also concluded that tort reforms have not led to health care cost savings for consumers.  As Michael Morrisey, a professor of health economics at the University of Alabama put it:

The results of the study suggest that there are no insurance premium savings that accrue to consumers.  Are there other benefits to consumers?  If these cannot be identified, it is difficult to see a justification for the loss of legal rights.

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