Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Fax (512) 463-0923

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2003
Contact: Dave Nelson
(512) 463-0112

TEXANS WILL HAVE OPPORTUNITY TO VOTE ON MEDICAL LIABILITY CRISIS

AUSTIN - The Texas Senate today approved another critical component in the effort to stabilize runaway medical liability insurance rates and preserve access to medical care for Texas patients.

The Senate passed HJR 3 sponsored by State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, allowing Texans to vote on a Constitutional amendment affirming the Legislature's authority to set damage caps in civil lawsuits. Polls show Texans overwhelmingly support setting caps on non-economic damages to prevent medical lawsuit abuse and protect against further damage on our health care system. When California passed its landmark medical liability reforms, they did not provide a Constitutional amendment. The result was a 10-year legal battle.

"We do not have 10 years to wait for this issue to be sorted out in the legal system. We do not even have 10 months. Region by region, specialty by specialty, Texas is losing health care providers to the liability crisis, especially in our emergency rooms, our maternity wards and our operating rooms," Senator Nelson said. "If we allow this issue to languish in the courts for the next decade, we are putting lives in danger."

The election will be held September 13th - the first available uniform election date after the Legislature adjourns. Other Constitutional amendments on the ballot that day include initiatives to redevelop closed military installations and exempt from property taxes travel trailers.

Medical lawsuit abuse is draining an estimated $1 million a day from the Texas health care system and causing significant gaps in our health care system. Surgeons, obstetricians and high risk specialists are the hardest hit. Currently there are 158 counties without an obstetrician available to deliver babies and 138 counties with no pediatrician.

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