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Federal Tort Reform Bill Should Mirror Texas Law, Groups Say

Texas Medical Association, May 1, 2017

By: Texas Medical Association

Physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers throughout Texas would lose substantial protections against frivolous medical lawsuits if a bill working its way through the nation's capital becomes law, two Texas medical groups say.

In a letter to U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD, (R-Texas), the heads of TMA and the Texas Alliance for Patient Access (TAPA) urge that HR 1215, the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017, be as closely aligned to Texas standards, which are "considered by many to be the 'gold standard' in state medical liability law."

The organizations are concerned that state flexibility language in HR 1215 would be too easy to amend or delete and that many of the protections that have been upheld by Texas courts could be relitigated outside of the state.

Further, the organizations ask that health care liability claims covered by the legislation be directly related to health care and that the statute of limitations for the start of a lawsuit be defined in more specific terms.

The organizations seek to protect a sweeping package of medical lawsuit reforms that became Texas law in 2003.

Those reforms have contributed substantially to the health and well-being of Texas residents by reducing frivolous lawsuits, attracting large numbers of physicians to the state, and allowing hospitals and nursing homes to expand their services.

"As HR 1215 makes its way through the legislative process, we will be requesting your help in improving the bill," said TMA President Don R. Read, MD, and TAPA Board Chair Howard Marcus, MD. "We offer our organizations as resources as to how medical malpractice reforms in Texas have benefited patients and doctors, and look forward to working with you and your staff on this important legislation."

Action, May 1, 2017