Letter to the Editor: Malpractice caps wipe out protection of consumers

Cumberland Times-News
Thursday, November 6, 2008

To the editor:
Your article, “Physician shortage expected to escalate in Western Maryland” (Nov. 3, Page 1A), outlined a series of strategies being considered by local health officials to help keep doctors from leaving the area. However, their advocacy of caps on malpractice suits, similar to those used in Texas, provides cause for alarm.

By way of background, former Gov. George W. Bush, at the prodding of corporate interest groups who had largely underwritten his campaign, signed a series of laws that insulated Texas corporations from lawsuits for reckless behavior, wiped out hard-fought consumer protections and stripped injured Texans of important legal rights.
Then, in 2003, the medical lobbies fought to amend the Texas constitution to severely limit compensation for patients injured by gross medical malpractice.

The law wiped out the few remaining rights that patients had and, as Texas Watch has found, has been devastating for many families and has led to worse overall healthcare in the state.

Ultimately, the suggestion of Western Maryland health officials that the retention of area physicians may ride on those doctors being held less accountable raises disturbing questions about the kind of medical personnel they seek to attract — not to mention their regard for the citizens whose safety they are so willing to barter.

Andy Hoffman
Attorney/policy analyst
Center for Justice & Democracy
New York, N.Y.

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