My fellow Texans, across our state we're seeing doctors hanging up their stethoscopes because of soaring malpractice rates and the headache of frivolous lawsuits.
Many doctors are already limiting their practices with some cutting back on critical women's health services, while others - like pediatric surgeons - are being forced out of practice because of high premiums.
As a result, many Texans are now forced to drive hundreds of miles for specialized care that was once available right in their own hometown.
If not addressed, this crisis will do lasting damage to the practice of medicine in Texas and undermine the access you have to the quality care you need.
That's why I've made medical malpractice reform an emergency issue for the Legislature and put forth a plan to tackle the problem.
The centerpiece is a $250,000 cap on subjective, non-economic damages - a key component that more than 20 states already have working in the courtroom.
Such a cap in Texas would not impact actual damages awarded by a jury for real harm that's suffered, but it would remove the incentive many trial lawyers have to play the lawsuit lottery with our health care system.
My plan also calls for the creation of special courts and the designation of special judges to hear medical malpractice claims.
I want experts to help weed out the frivolous claims from those with real merit with strict penalties on lawyers who file bogus claims.
To assure we address the bad actors in the health care profession, my plan also calls for tougher provisions on doctors who engage in reckless procedures that harm or jeopardize patient health.
My friends, if we don't address medical malpractice reform this session I believe many parts of our state will ultimately be left without adequate medical care.
By removing incentives for abuse by trial lawyers, establishing special courts and increasing oversight of insurance companies, we can lower malpractice rates and keep doctors doing what they do best - helping patients.