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When Are They Going to Learn?

From Texas Watch ”November 29th, 2011

Just because special interest lobbyists keep repeating the same thing over and over (and over) again, doesn’t make it true. In a recent op-ed piece, Thomas Wilder from the astro-turf lobby outfit known as the Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse once again makes the argument that patients should be gleeful that the insurance and medical industries stripped patients of our legal right to hold an unscrupulous physician, dangerous hospital, or careless nursing home legally accountable.

Wilder drags out the same tired arguments that proponents have been clinging to for years. The problem is that each of their arguments have been debunked by independent, non-partisan, media sources.

For instance, Wilder claims that increases in physician supply in Texas are the result of limiting the rights of patients. The highly-respected, independent fact-checking organization PolitiFact rated a similar assertion by Governor Perry false. Additionally, a comprehensive review of the impact of the 2003 law by the Associated Press concludes that the growth in physicians tracks population increases. The AP also found that most new doctors have opted to practice in urban areas that weren’t facing a doctor shortage rather than under-served communities that most need those new physicians.

Wilder goes on to suggest that restricting the rights of patients will accrue significant savings to the health care system and taxpayers. This is simply untrue. Health care costs at both the family level and the overall system level are up dramatically since 2003. Health insurance premiums for Texas families have risen 13% faster than the national average. Similarly, costs incurred by Texas’s taxpayer backed Medicare program have also outpaced the rest of the nation.

Finally, the spate of recent headlines from cities all across Texas about dangerous doctors who continue to see patients despite track records of abuse, needless injury, and even death cannot be ignored. The fact is that so-called tort reform has done nothing to improve patient safety.

While special interest groups like the one that Dr. Wilder speaks for and the insurance industry crow, Texas patients continue to struggle under a broken health care system. No matter how many times they claim otherwise.