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November 25, 2003


The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram

No quick fix

The medical liability crisis is deep, it is real, and even with the passage of Proposition 12 it will not be alleviated overnight.

Unfortunately for patients and doctors, the market doesn't change from crisis to stablity instantly. We remain in a crisis situation, unable to fully staff trauma centers, deliver care to rural Texans or provide any liability coverage whatsoever to half the state's nonprofit nursing homes.

The market is still reeling from an avalanche of suits filed in anticipation that lawmakers would cap non-economic damages.

While lawmakers were passing a damage cap and voters were affirming it, trial lawyers were opening the lawsuit spigot full force.

The equivalent of four years of medical liability lawsuits were dumped on Harris County courts in the first nine months of this year -- prior to the effective date of the medical liability limits. This pattern of flooding the courts was repeated statewide.

All of those cases have to be defended, and all are governed under the old law, which imposes no cap.

The fact that the state's largest insurer of physicians has announced a rate cut and The Doctors Company has canceled a scheduled rate increase is encouraging.

We remain cautiously optimistic that the market will begin to turn in the next six months.

Jon Opelt
Houston director of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

Copyright © 2003 The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram. All rights reserved.

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