P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 12, 2002
AUSTIN -- State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, today filed legislation designed to prevent medical lawsuit abuse and the exploding costs of medical liability insurance from inflicting further damage on the Texas health care system.
Senate Bill 12, The Medical Liability Insurance Reform Act, aims to reduce the number of frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits and place a reasonable cap on lawsuit judgments. In a separate bill, Senator Nelson proposes stronger patient protections by giving the State Board of Medical Examiners broad authority to discipline health care providers and proactively intervene with physicians at risk.
"My goal is to ensure that patients are not only safe but have access to the quality health care they need. Currently patients are finding themselves abandoned because their health care provider has been forced out of business due to the exploding costs of liability insurance," Senator Nelson said. "The key to reversing this trend is tort reform. Unlimited judgments result in unlimited premiums. Unlimited premiums result in restricted access to patient care. We need patients to have more care options, and our health care dollars need to be directed to patient care instead of bleeding into the legal system to the tune of $1 million a day."
Key components of the bill include a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages, clarification of the statute of limitations for filing malpractice cases, a provision allowing payment of claims through periodic payments rather than a lump sum, and a limit on attorney contingency fees.
Senator Nelson is Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Prompt Payment of Health Care Providers, which has been studying ways to rein in the cost of medical liability insurance. The Committee found that doctors and hospitals are spending $1 million a day fighting frivolous lawsuits and that about 85 percent of all malpractice lawsuits are closed without a finding for the plaintiff.