Perry defends Texas malpractice limits

Supporters of Texas' medical malpractice laws — including Gov. Rick Perry — are pushing back against a report that says the laws have made healthcare worse in the state.

The liberal advocacy group Public Citizen said Wednesday that since Perry signed tort reform into law in 2003, the state hasn't added new doctors as quickly as its overall population has grown. The report also said health insurance premiums there have risen faster than the national average.

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The malpractice law is a central tenet of Perry's healthcare platform in the GOP presidential race, and the governor's office defended the effort following Public Citizen's report.

According to Perry's office, the growth in the number of doctors practicing in Texas has outpaced population growth by 84 percent since tort reform became law. The increases are even higher in some of Texas' largest cities.

His office also said premiums for employer-sponsored coverage have risen more slowly than the national average as well as 27 other states. Public Citizen's report cited higher-than-average premiums overall, not just in the employer market. Most people get their coverage through an employer; individual plans are generally much more expensive.


Texas's law caps non-economic damages in malpractice suits at $250,000 — the same policy that doctors and many Republicans want to see applied at the federal level. President Obama opposes a cap on damages but has said he's open to other forms of malpractice reform, such as shielding doctors from suits if they adhere to a defined set of best practices.