Study: Tort Reform Didn’t Lead to Lower Health Care Costs
By Chip Skambis
A new study says there’s no evidence that a state law limiting payouts in medical malpractice lawsuits led to a decrease in health care costs in Texas.
Such a decrease was widely promised in 2003 when state lawmakers passed sweeping legislation to reform malpractice lawsuits. Backers of tort reform said doctors who faced a higher risk of being sued would perform more tests in order to protect themselves from lawsuits. They said tort reform would cause the rate of unnecessary tests to decline, leading to lower health care costs and Medicare spending.
“If anything, we see physician spending going up,” said Bernard Black, a law professor at Northwestern University and a co-author of study. “Now, I don’t want to take that result to the bank. There are hints of that rather than a firm conclusion. The firm conclusion is that spending didn’t go down.”
The study also concludes tort reform has not attracted more doctors to Texas — another of the promises made in 2003.