Wendell Potter is a former Head of Communications at Humana, Inc. and at Cigna and has been making it his business to slow down and hold accountable the anti-health care reform spin machine set up by the health insurance industry. He is now a reporter at the Center for Public Integrity. He has a blog that can be accessed at Wendellpotter.com. In a recent article also republished in the National Journal online, called the Mythical Benefits of Tort Reform in Texas, he puts Texas Governor Rick Perry’s recent claims about the success of tort reform in Texas in perspective.
Consider, the tort reform legislation passed in Texas in 2003 capped non-economic pain and suffering damages at $250,000 for doctors and $750,000 for hospitals. Perry claims that the reforms resulted in a substantial drop in malpractice premiums in the state for the benefit of the citizens of the state. It is true as Potter notes that malpractice premiums dropped in Texas. The public of course reaped the rewards from the need to no longer practice defense medicine ---not.
The number of physicians in patient care in Texas in real numbers, but not relative to the growth of the population. In 2008 Texas was 41st in the number of physicians per population. In 2000, before tort reform, it was 39th.
In 2010 Texas families paid average premiums for their health care of $14,526. That figures to be $655.00 higher than the national average.
The number of employers in Texas who provide health care coverage for their employees was only 51% compared with 53.5 % of the U.S. as a whole. Texas employees receiving health care benefits had to make $4500. in contribution toward employer sponsored health care. The U.S. average contribution was $3721.
And finally, (drum roll please), the award for the highest percentage of its population without health insurance coverage goes to the great state of Texas at 25% compared with 16 percent nationwide. Texas really owns this award. It was dead last before tort reform and is dead last now.