Tracy Casto, public affairs director at Dallas County Medical Society, wrote this letter. "Please consider sending a similar one to your friends, via snail mail or email," Tracy writes. "Remember, this is a statewide referendum; you can send it to your friends throughout the state. It's imperative to Texas physicians and their patients that Proposition 12 passes on Sept. 13."
Please Vote on Sept. 13 and Vote "Yes" on Proposition 12
Or vote early, between Thursday, Aug. 28, and Sept. 9.
The liability insurance crisis in Texas is real and it decreases your ability to get the kind of medical care you may need. Huge jury awards for pain and suffering are driving up the premiums for professional liability insurance. Medical specialists are leaving the state or taking early retirement rather than pay the premium increase. Their departure limits your ability to get appropriate care.
For example, if you suffered a serious head injury in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in 2002, you had a choice of Parkland, Baylor, or Methodist hospitals for your care. Faced with a huge premium increase last January, the neurosurgeon at Methodist who cared for trauma moved to North Carolina, and Methodist Hospital no longer accepts patients with serious head injuries. Similar stories can be told for other specialties. Did you know that 152 of the 254 counties in Texas have no obstetrician? Some 6,500 Texas physicians lost their medical liability coverage between 2001 and 2002, and nearly two-thirds of doctors surveyed say the climate in which they practice medicine has forced them to deny or refer high-risk cases in the past two years.
The recent Texas Legislature passed and the governor signed a bill limiting the awards for pain and suffering to $750,000, but the bill must be reinforced by amending the Texas Constitution. This bill is patterned after a California law that has stabilized premiums in that state for the past 20 years. It will work in Texas to stabilize premiums and guarantee that you and I will have a neurosurgeon or obstetrician when we need one.
Every person who is injured through negligence must be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages and other real financial losses. This bill provides for that compensation. Only the so-called "noneconomic losses" are capped. These include pain and suffering.
Meaningful reforms were passed in 1989 but the Texas Supreme Court decreed they were contrary to the Texas Constitution. That is why a constitutional amendment is needed-to preclude a court challenge. The powerful plaintiffs attorneys opposing this amendment have formed a group called "Save Texas Courts" and have contributed huge sums to get you to vote no. (Some individual attorneys have contributed $250,000 to their cause.) You probably have received their slick mailers filled with misinformation.
I urge you to vote on Sept. 13 and vote "yes" for Proposition 12.
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