The people of Texas on Sept. 13, 2003, approved Proposition 12, granting the Texas Legislature the authority to cap noneconomic damages in health care liability cases and ensuring doctors and hospitals will be there when they are sick or injured.
"The constitutional amendment concerning civil lawsuits against doctors and health care providers, and other actions, authorizing the legislature to determine limitations on non-economic damages."
Texas Medical Association President Charles W. Bailey, Jr., MD, issued this statement (audio cut) on the results of the election:
"The real winners of this election are the people of Texas who can be more certain that doctor will be there for them when they're sick or injured.
"The physicians of Texas and our patients owe a debt of gratitude to the Republican and Democratic legislators who recognized the serious threat to health care in Texas, and passed the legislation enabling today's vote. We also thank Governor and Mrs. Perry for their tireless campaiging on the issue.
"I can't end the thanks without pointing out how hard our doctors, their spouses, and others in the medical community worked to keep the debate focused on the true issue - access to care."
Gov. Rick Perry, who campaigned heavily for passage of Proposition 12, called it "a very good night" for the people of Texas.
"Tonight Texans voted to protect doctors and nurses, to improve our civil justice system, and to preserve access to quality health care by passing Proposition 12," Perry said. "This is a much-needed victory for doctors, nurses and other health care providers whose services have been jeopardized by frivolous lawsuits and skyrocketing medical liability rates.
"But most importantly," Perry said, "this is a victory for the people of Texas. We are all patients of the health care system. We all depend on qualified physicians and nurses. And today Texans have taken an important step toward protecting both the practice of medicine and Texans' access to quality health care."
Said American Medical Association President Donald J. Palmisano, MD: "Today's victory was desperately needed to help curb lawsuit abuse in Texas. Opponents of reform tried to confuse the issues, but Texas patients were not fooled by empty rhetoric and junk science.
"The Texas Medical Association and physician members worked tirelessly to present the facts because they did not want to see health care in the Lone Star state deteriorate any further."
Audio Message from TMA President, Charles W. Bailey Jr., MD, on Proposition 12 Reform
Answers to the Hard Questions on Proposition 12
Send this Letter to Every Texan You Know
Texas Is Supporting Yes on 12!
Tort Reform Bill Only Half the Battle
The Texas Legislature recently approved what some are calling "the most comprehensive tort reform legislation that any state has ever passed," and Gov. Rick Perry already has signed House Bill 4 into law. The centerpiece of that bill is a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages for all physicians in a case, the single most effective known cure for health care lawsuit abuse.
But physicians won't see immediate relief from skyrocketing professional liability insurance premiums until the cap and other tort reforms pass constitutional muster. As California and other states have seen, it can take years for a case to wind its way through the judicial system before the state Supreme Court finally gives its blessing to the new law. In Texas, we've taken a different approach. On Saturday, Sept. 13, Texas voters will be asked to approve an amendment to the state constitution that specifically grants the legislature authority to set caps on noneconomic damages in health care cases. This amendment is one of 22 that will be on the ballot that day. It is resolution number 12.
The "Yes on 12" campaign is off to a rousing start. Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and Speaker Tom Craddick all worked hard to bring Resolution 12 to the voters. Most leading Texas health care and business organizations are raising funds for the effort and rallying their members behind it. The Texas Medical Association and the state's county medical societies and specialty societies are all playing a key role.
The personal injury trial lawyers and various organizations that front for them already have begun their fundraising, advertising, and (mis)information campaigns. It's estimated they will spend as much as $15 million before it's all over. "We will be outspent, don't worry about it," says political consultant Dave Carney, who is leading the "Yes on 12" campaign. "We just can't be outworked."
The "Yes" forces won't be outworked if physicians replicate the enormously successful grassroots campaigns of recent years that have elected conservative judges to the Supreme Court of Texas and other courts. Get-out-the-vote efforts will be crucial. The "little red cards" that TEXPAC made famous in the "Clean Slate for '88" campaign once again will be the key to success. TMA will provide physicians with slate cards to share with patients, staff, family, and friends; with office posters; and with bumper stickers urging "Yes on 12"
The last day to register to vote in the election is Aug. 14. Early voting runs from Aug. 27 through Sept. 9, and should account for about 30 percent of the 1.6 million to 2 million votes expected to be cast.