Study rebuts doctors' claim of health crisis; U.S. report casts doubt on Proposition 12 backers' key argument

Austin American-Statesman
Friday, September 5, 2003

There is little evidence that patients are losing access to health care because doctors are paying more for medical malpractice insurance, according to a study by the investigative arm of Congress.

The General Accounting Office report issued last week appear to contradict one of the main arguments used by supporters of Proposition 12, a proposed constitutional amend- ment that would limit the amount of damages Texas juries can award in medical malpractice cases.

But after studying nine states -- Texas not among them -- the accounting office found that increased premiums are causing no "widespread" loss of health care, including in five states that the American Medical Association have said are in "crisis."

The AMA, through a spokeswoman, declined to discuss the report.
A coalition of national consumer groups, including Public Citizen, the Center for Justice and Democracy and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said in a letter that the report shows that AMA officials have “misled, fabricated evidence or, at the very least, wildly overstated their case about how these medical malpractice insurance problems have limited access to health care.”

The same exaggeration has been taking place in Texas, said Dan Lambe, executive director of Texas Watch and the main spokesman for a coalition of consumer groups, crime victims organizations and senior citizens groups opposing Proposition 12.

"The rhetoric doesn't match the reality," Lambe said.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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