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Texas Senate
March 11, 2003   
(512) 463-0300

Dewhurst Promises to Act on Medical Malpractice Crisis

Austin - Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst promised to drive down medical malpractice rates at a Capitol press conference today citing what he called the troubling results of a recent poll. According to Dewhurst, the survey conducted by the Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (TAOG) reinforces what the legislature has been concerned about for some time, that medical malpractice rates have gone through the ceiling. Frivolous malpractice lawsuits, which end up with a verdict of no merit, are creating a crisis by driving up professional liability insurance premiums, said the Lieutenant Governor.

"This is literally a matter of life and death to the profession," said Dewhurst, saying that the rising insurance costs are causing doctors to leave the practice of medicine. The TAOG report suggested some possible solutions to the health care access crisis, such as limiting how much a personal injury trial lawyer can receive from a professional liability lawsuit and creating a law to limit awards for pain and suffering.

Legislation intended to protect consumers from identity theft was presented this afternoon by Houston Senator Rodney Ellis. According to the Senator, "This legislation will stop the information hemorrhage that occurs after someone's privacy has been violated." Some of the proposed legislation includes:

  • Senate Bill (SB) 473, which would allow victims of identity theft to freeze their credit records to prevent more credit from being issued,
  • SB 235, which would truncate credit card numbers on cash register receipts,
  • SB 611, which would restrict the use of social security numbers, and
  • SB 136, which would prohibit businesses from selling personal information without permission.

The Senate passed three bills to engrossment in session today:

  • SB 153, relating to the Voucher Payment Program Work Group, would expand the membership of the group, change the name, and extend it's expiration date.
  • SB 209 would expand the law regulating video receiving equipment in cars to include videocassette players and digital video disc players.
  • SB 360 would include chambers of commerce in the definition of charitable organizations.

The Senate will reconvene Wednesday, March 12, 2003, at 11:00 a.m.

Session video and all other Senate webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.