Radio Address - August 24, 2004
Gov. Rick Perry
Date: August 24, 2004
Topic: Tort Reform
My fellow Texans:
Just a few short months ago, Texas was in the midst of a healthcare crisis brought on by an onslaught of frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits. While personal injury trial lawyers reaped huge windfalls in the courtroom, doctors were closing their practices because they could no longer afford liability insurance, and patients were struggling to get the care they needed.
That's why I declared medical malpractice reform an emergency issue for the 2003 legislative session, and successfully worked with the legislature to cap non-economic damages in malpractice suits. There is no limit on real economic damages, like lost wages or medical expenses.
Because personal injury trial lawyers have less of an incentive to play the lawsuit lottery at the expense of Texas doctors and patients, the number of malpractice suits is steadily dropping, and doctors are reopening their doors, expanding their practices and providing patients with greater access to medical care.
In the year since voters approved these historic lawsuit abuse reforms, Texas has added at least 82 obstetricians, including two in Fredericksburg and 16 in the Austin area.
Corpus Christi has gained 22 new doctors, including a long-awaited neurosurgeon, two pediatricians and a cardiologist. In Beaumont, four new anesthesiologists have started practicing. And doctors are returning to the medically underserved Rio Grande Valley, once a hotbed of malpractice litigation, but now a welcoming environment for doctors and the patients they serve.
We are hearing similar anecdotes from every corner of Texas. That means patients with critical needs can receive treatment within minutes right in their hometown instead of traveling hours to another city.
Despite the trial lawyers' predictions to the contrary, medical malpractice reform has given patients greater access to healthcare and improved the quality of care Texans receive.
Because of our reforms, Texas doctors are spending their precious time helping the sick get well in the examination room, instead of helping trial lawyers get rich in the courtroom. And with a year's worth of hindsight, there is no doubt that medical malpractice reform was the right prescription for the people of Texas.