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English Speaking Dogs Tell Us?

Imagine a politician standing to give a speech on job creation. His proposals to create more jobs include the following :   “We should teach dogs to speak English. It would create more teaching positions and encourage more people to go into fields of education. That would create more jobs in the education field at universities.

It is a wonderful idea to create jobs. Plus no one is arguing against it. Unfortunately, it misses the idea that dogs cannot learn to speak English. Well, except for the few that are on the Internet with such phrases as “Ma Ma” or “I love you”. It reminds me of all the folks who want to believe that they saw the face of Jesus in a grilled cheese.

You can see what you want to see, if you believe enough. I use that thought as a springboard to the Tort reform in Texas. I knew that if I started the blog with tort reform in Texas “you would change the channel”.

Let me make a quick point and make it quick. In 2003, Texas adopted a constitutional amendment that limited payouts in medical malpractice lawsuits. There was a specific cap of $750,000 on payouts for pain, suffering, disfigurement and mental anguish. Later, they capped non-economic damages for malpractice cases to an amount of $250,000.

The basis for enacting the caps was to curb malpractice lawsuits; reduce insurance costs for doctors; lower healthcare costs to patients, which would boost their access to physicians;  encourage physicians to come practice in Texas, as a friendly doctor state; and allow doctors to practice medicine without having to order all those extra tests because of the fear of “those frivolous lawsuits”.

I don’t think I left anything out in the list. Maybe… lower the cost of medical bills since insurance companies could pass the savings on to the consumer…  Well, the results of those 2003 lawsuit caps are in. What are the benefits?

First, according to the Insurance Journal, Texas now ranks number 46 out of 50 states in doctors per Texas residents. So, either that means that doctors can’t stand the thought of living in Texas or, malpractice lawsuit caps have nothing to do with where they practice. Of course, it could also mean that doctors don’t want to hear a word of coverage about the Dallas Cowboys… but I digress.

Did these malpractice caps lower the cost of healthcare for patients? Not according to the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. I guess that if insurance companies are saving money on malpractice payouts… that they are not passing it on as a savings to Texas residents. Imagine that.

Not only has healthcare costs not decreased, but there’s more bad Texas news. The federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality ranked Texas health care as the worst in the nation. (2011) Hmmm.

A little bit of good news though. The Center for Progressive Reform found that “restricting lawsuits might save doctors a negligible amount on malpractice premiums”. Negligible is good, right?  OK, I’ll stop being sarcastic.

I doubt that you are clamoring for some good old late night insurance reading. However, in keeping with this being a legal blog, here’s a book that you will probably never read. From Amazon comes The Malpractice Myth by Tom Baker.  Just as a side note, Amazon wanted me to know that as a Prime Member, I can buy the book at a wonderful discount. I think I’ll pass for now.

This book does recite why insurance companies pretend that insurance caps lower insurance premiums.  Of course, I doubt that anyone truly believes that insurance companies would rather pass on profits than keep them. Just my .02.

The old mantra that cutting taxes creates jobs; drilling for oil is a huge job creator (as long as you don’t count cleaning the oil off the pelicans); and caps on lawsuits lowers insurance premiums. Those all sound wonderful. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful life. Unfortunately, it’s more like staring at the dryer in the spin cycle. It’s all believable as long as we don’t have to look at statistics.

And that’s my Tuesday morning soapbox. I’ll climb off now.

And for pic o’ day, some hiding:




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