By Kyle Peveto, Page Editor
Proposition 12, which will limit the amount of money that can be paid for non-economic damages in a malpractice trial, may not lower doctors’ insurance premiums and we should not amend the Texas Constitution for it.
Non-economic damages, which include pain and suffering, mental anguish and other less concrete injuries, would be limited to $250,000 for one defendant or $750,000 if a plaintiff sues more than one institution.
After the Texas Supreme Court threw out a cap in 1988, supporters of Proposition 12 now want to amend the constitution to make sure the bill would hold up to any challenges. Our state should not amend the constitution over it.
This proposition takes the power given to juries to decide what a human life is worth and gives it to politicians. Economic damages, such as lost wages or medical bills, calculate easily, but total damages can figure much higher.
The amendment’s supporters argue that capping the damages paid in lawsuits will lower medical malpractice insurance rates in Texas, allowing more doctors to practice surgery, obstetrics and other more hazardous areas of medicine. California has lived with a cap for 27 years, but they have not worked to lower insurance premiums in every case.
Weiss Ratings Inc., a company that rates the safety of many financial institutions like insurance companies, found that the median malpractice premium surged 48.2 percent in states with caps between 1991 and 2002; the premiums in states without caps rose only 35.9 percent.
An insurance crisis is plaguing our state. Before amending our constitution, we must make insurance companies accountable for their high premiums.
A quick fix to a complex problem, Proposition 12 should be voted down.