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Professor Charles Silver’s research on tort reform reveals no cost savings to Medicare

Charles M. Silver

A group of researchers including Charles M. Silver, the Roy W. and Eugenia C. MacDonald Endowed Chair in Civil Procedure at the School of Law, recently completed a study that found no evidence that “tort reform” for medical malpractice has resulted in cost savings.

The study’s results, “Will Tort Reform Bend the Cost Curve? Evidence from Texas,” were published in Volume 9 of the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.

The researchers, who also included Myungho Paik and Bernard Black from Northwestern University School of Law and David A. Hyman of the University of Illinois College of Law, set out to test the claim that hard caps on malpractice damages would result in less “defensive medicine” and would thereby reduce overall healthcare spending.

To study this claim, the researchers looked at changes in Medicare spending after the State of Texas adopted tort reform in 2003. They compared Medicare spending in Texas counties with high claim rates to spending in Texas counties with low claim rates, before and after implementation of the 2003 law.

The researchers sum up their results in this way:

Pre-reform, Medicare spending levels and trends were similar in high- and low-risk counties. Post-reform, we find no evidence that spending levels or trends in high-risk counties declined relative to low-risk counties and some evidence of increased physician spending in high-risk counties. We also compare spending trends in Texas to national trends, and find no evidence of reduced spending in Texas post-reform, and some evidence that physician spending rose in Texas relative to control states. In sum, we find no evidence that Texas’s tort reforms bent the cost curve downward.

The team is also researching questions about the effect of tort reform on the number of physicians who are in practice. That research is forthcoming; a draft is available for comments on SSRN.

Related links

Will Tort Reform Bend the Cost Curve? Evidence from Texas, published on SSRN

Charlie Silver’s research on tort reform featured in the Austin American-Statesman

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2 Responses to “Professor Charles Silver’s research on tort reform reveals no cost savings to Medicare”

  1. Cilla Mitchell Says:

    June 23rd, 2012 at 7:09 am

    Tort Reform also is used as a legal weapon to kill Texans ever since Governor Rick Perry signed the 2003 Tort Reform Act. Tort Reform strangled the 7th Amendment and allowed it to die a slow unceremonious death.

    If you want to view collateral damage left behind Tort Reform inflicted by negligent and reckless doctors, Google: Cleveland Mark Mitchell Dec 12 1950 – April 26 2008 – youtube.

    If you want to view the face of Dr. Javier Andrade who dropped the ball by failing to provide the basic standard of care to my husband in a Galveston, Texas emergency room and who died shortly thereafter, Google: Why did you drop the ball Dr. Andrade – youtube. He is free to practice a New York Bariatric group because the Texas Medical Board failed to police after their own and allowed countless of doctors to injure or kill Texans without accountability.

    Are we sacrificing fundamental constitutional liberties secured in the Bill of Rights to protect a few bad doctors like Dr. Javier Andrade? Yes we are.

    Thank you for your time,

    Cilla Mitchell

    A Texas nurse and vet

  2. Jeff L Says:

    July 24th, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    As an avid Rick Perry hater, I was shocked when I found something moderately reasonable-sounding from him.

    … So I looked up the Texas Law school report, which seems to be addressed on this page…

    It looks like Perry talks about malpractice insurance rates and number of providers, whereas Mr. Silver talks about bill-out rates of medicare and neither talk about service levels and amount of care contracted. Confusing indeed.

    I suspect that tort reform will find both opponents and allies on both ends of the political spectrum (Is this the first time Perry has ever advocated against non-governmental forces setting prices?)

    Honestly I don’t know where I fall on this issue.

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