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Wayne Parsons
Wayne Parsons
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Most See That Legal Reforms Are The Wrong Idea

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In an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle (10/16), N. Alex Winslow, executive director of Texas Watch, wrote, "Lately we have heard a lot…about Texas-style, anti-patient laws as a solution to our nation’s health care crisis. When insurance lobbyists rammed through legal changes that were designed to severely limit the legal rights of Texas patients in 2003, we heard high-falutin’ rhetoric promising dramatic improvements in the cost, access, and quality of health care. If only it were as simple as that." But in fact, "Health care costs have risen dramatically in Texas; we rank near the bottom in per-capita physicians; rural and underserved areas continue to struggle to attract new physicians; and Texas has the nation’s highest rate of uninsured." Rather than "shifting accountability from those who cause needless death and injury to individuals and the taxpayers," Winslow argues we should favor "creating real safety standards, forcing industries to be accountable for their decisions, and restoring our constitutional legal protections."

Goldfarb: Alternatives to damage caps exist. In the "Pundits Blog" at The Hill (10/16), Ronald Goldfarb wrote, "There is a way to deal with the escalating costs of medical malpractice insurance without interfering with patients’ damage awards at trials in medical cases." Goldfarb argues that an expanded use of Mortality and Morbidity Conferences, "protected from the adversary process, which would inhibit its freewheeling nature, could prevent repeated misconduct and lead to settlements without trials." Goldfarb also favors the use of "pretrial non-binding mediation."

Commentators call for tort reform. In an op-ed in Investor’s Business Daily (10/16), Joe Nixon of the Texas Public Policy Foundation wrote, "The Obama administration wants to spend $25 million to figure out best practices in tort reform. A better idea would be to save the money and just adopt what Texas did six years ago to solve its medical malpractice lawsuit overabundance," and embrace tort reform. "These common-sense reforms have led to a massive increase in the accessibility of health care in Texas, huge growth in the capital infrastructure of hospitals and clinics, hundreds of millions of dollars more each year in charity care and Texas’ adding more than 16,000 new doctors in just six years. And in reducing the actual number of suits to those in which claims are meritorious – a recent Harvard study concluded that up to 85% of all lawsuits brought against medical providers were frivolous – we have created a more equitable system of justice."

In an op-ed in the National Review Online (10/19), Edwin Meese III and Hans A. von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation write that the health-care bill the Senate Finance Committee approved will not "bring down the high cost of health care, which is driven in large measure by abusive tort litigation." The authors argue, "Any federal action should encourage, or at least be consistent with, state medical-malpractice reform." They comment, "There is a reason for the pro–trial lawyer bias evident throughout the "reform" proposals: The top contributor to President Obama’s presidential campaign was the legal industry, whose donations came to more than $43 million."