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Seal of the Senate of the State of Texas
Welcome to the official website for the
Texas Senate
February 3, 2009
(512) 463-0300


Sen. Fraser
Senator Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay says caps on malpractice damages have brought doctors into traditionally underserved areas of the state.

(AUSTIN) — Doctors representing the Texas Medical Association announced at a press conference Tuesday that tort reform has increased the number of emergency room physicians in Texas. They said lower malpractice premiums have especially helped rural areas add specialists and emergency room doctors. Senator Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay agreed, saying that the intent of the legislation passed in 2003 has been achieved, bringing better healthcare coverage to traditionally underserved areas. "This law is working, we were successful in doing what we're doing and we're very pleased with the way this law is affecting the people of Texas," he said.

House Bill 4, passed during the 78th Legislative Session, capped non-economic damages in malpractice suits at $250,000 per defendant. This cap, according to Dr. Bobby Greenberg of the Texas College of Emergency Room Physicians (TCEP), has allowed the recruitment of more doctors to the state. "It allows a physician to take care of a patient without worrying about anything more than care of that patient," he said. "Liability reform in Texas has brought us to where we need to be."

According to TCEP, since 2003, seventy-six Texas counties have experienced a net gain in ER doctors, including 24 counties that previously lacked any. Twenty-four of those counties lie in rural parts of the state.

Also Tuesday, Governor Rick Perry issued a proclamation designating emergency issues for the 81st Legislature. These are:

  • Bills that supplement appropriations to state agencies relating to hurricane response and recovery.
  • Bills to help entities public and private recover from the hurricanes of 2008.
  • Bills that reform the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and that fund the Catastrophic Reserve Trust Fund.
  • Bills to improve state schools and centers.
  • Bills to purchase screening and detection devices for contraband material at Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities.

By rule, legislation is not allowed to be brought to the floor in the first 60 days of session, unless it is designated as an emergency issue.

The Senate will reconvene Wednesday, February 4, at 11 a.m.

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