Gov. Perry on Health Care and Tort Reform

Under Gov. Perry, Texas has reformed its child protective services, insured more of Texas’ needy children than ever before, and increased health care investments by more than $20 billion while promoting prevention and wellness programs to cut down on future health care costs. Gov. Perry has also led the most sweeping lawsuit reform in the nation, cracking down on junk asbestos claims and frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits. Now thousands more doctors, including specialists, are practicing in Texas, bringing greater access to quality health care for Texans.

  • Cracking Down on Frivolous Lawsuits. Medical Liability Reform. In 2003, Gov. Perry led the fight to pass the most sweeping medical liability reforms in the nation. Since then, frivolous lawsuits against doctors and hospitals have dropped dramatically, insurance costs have fallen, and access to health care has greatly improved. - More Doctors. More Specialists. In 2007, the Texas Medical Board received a record 4,041 applications for physician licenses, and issued a record 3,324 licenses. The board topped that again the next year, granting a new record 3,621 licenses in 2008. Texas has added 215 obstetricians since 2003, and the number of obstetricians practicing in rural Texas has grown by 27 percent.
  • Increased access in underserved areas. In 2009, Gov. Perry signed legislation to expand access to medical care in rural and medically underserved areas. House Bill 2154 creates a dedicated source of revenue to support education loan forgiveness for physicians who work in health professional shortage areas and provide services to Medicaid or CHIP recipients.
  • Protecting Children. Over 2.4 million of Texas poorest children – one out of every three children in the state – are now covered under the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid program.
  • Texas Protects its Most Vulnerable Citizens. Texas overhauled state supported living centers, formerly known as state schools, to provide more oversight and protection for the residents of the centers and those in community-based services.
  • Tough on Fraud. Gov. Perry authorized the creation of the Office of the Inspector General of the Health And Human Services Commission which saved taxpayers over $1.5 billion in fraud detection in government health care programs.

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Read Related Press Releases, Blog Posts and News Articles about Gov. Perry's Efforts on Health Care and Tort Reform

Gov. Perry tells veterans in Hewitt that state will spend funds to reduce backlog in benfits claims

November 24, 2009
Waco Tribune-Herald
Regina Dennis
Gov. Rick Perry said the state will fund a new initiative into 2011 to reduce a statewide backlog of more than 38,000 pending veterans benefits claims. Perry earlier this month authorized the Texas Veterans Commission, a state veterans’ advocacy agency, to develop a Claims Processing Assistance Team that will help expedite the backlog. The team will include 12 new veterans counselors who will be split between the Veterans Affairs Regional Processing Centers in Waco and Houston. Speaking to about a dozen local veterans at the Hewitt Veterans of Foreign Wars Post on Monday, Perry said the state is allocating $393,000 that will fund the positions through the end of the 2011 fiscal year. “Entirely too many of our veterans waiting on a response from the VA hear, ‘Just keep waiting,’ ” Perry said. “Considering the risks they took in fighting for our freedoms, our veterans deserve better.” Of the claims awaiting processing statewide, about 20,000 are in Houston and about 18,000 are in Waco. About 38 percent have been pending for at least four months, Perry said. Perry said that the Texas Legislature would decide in the 2011 session whether to continue funding the program. The new initiative was met favorably by veterans attending the Monday press conference. Randy Vasser, an Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War for 14 months, said he waited four to six months on two different claims with the VA after filing for benefits two years ago. “I had filed the claims on my own and got frustrated, and some folks recommended that I look into the TVC because they have a lot of experience in helping other veterans,” Vasser said. “Once they got involved it got resolved really quickly. So I’m happy that they’re going to be able to help out more veterans.” Brig. Gen. Karen S. Rankin, chairwoman of the Texas Veterans Commission, said the commission’s experience and knowledge on the claims process will better assist veterans in providing information on their claims. She estimated that each veterans counselor can move through 850 to 1,000 claims each year. “If the veteran does not have an advocate like ours assisting with his claim, it is never going to go through the VA,” Rankin said. “The VA routinely denies a claim on the first submission. And it’s not because they’re mean, but it’s just that the system is so complex and it’s complicated. . . . It takes someone who is well-versed in the nuances of the claims process to know everything you have to have and get it right.” James Richman, director of claims representation and counseling for the veterans commission, said much of the work will involve identifying claims that are ready to move forward and helping gather evidence for claims in the development phase to prepare them for VA officials to make a final decision. “We can go through the cases and say to the veteran, ‘This is what the VA is going to need from you to process your claim. How can we get it?’ ” Richman said. “We can act as that liaison to put everything together instead of waiting for the VA to send out a letter a couple of months later about it, and the veteran may or may not be able to respond in a timely manner — eliminating all that lag time that keeps the claims from moving forward.” Richman said this initiative will also free up the VA to devote more staff and resources toward decision-making to hand down quicker rulings on claims. State Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson, R-Waco, attended the press conference and offered praise for the program. “The main thing is we want to do the right thing by our veterans in getting them access to their benefits, and I applaud Gov. Perry for using this unique opportunity to help our veterans,” Anderson said. rdennis@wacotrib.com

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Gov. Perry: Have courage to fight bills

November 18, 2009
McKinney Courier-Gazette
Brian Bearden
Gov. Perry wants Texans to have courage to fight against bills pushed by Congress Packed house in Collin County warned that Obama's policies would be disaster <a href="/about">Texas Gov. Rick Perry</a> said there’s a reason that Barack Obama is president and the Democrats control the Congress. “Before the last election, there were too many Republicans who were elected that went to Washington and acted like a Democrat.” Perry, who made no mention of his Republican opponent in the governor's race, told a packed Monday afternoon gathering at Collin County Republican Party headquarters on Stacy Road in McKinney that citizens and voters need to be engaged, go to Tea Party rallies, attend Town Halls, write their representatives and battle for what they believe in everyday. Perry said the reason the president’s health care bill has not passed is because so many turned out across the country at town hall meetings in August. Perry said that although Democrats say the overflow town halls meetings were fake “Astroturf” and not actual grass-roots efforts, the movement is real. “You better believe it is real,” Perry said. “Harry Reid and the Democrats may say it is not, but the Senate would not have voted down the public option if it was not real. We need to be engaged. It is our responsibility.” Perry, who was not met with any protests during his talk, was asked if he required a teleprompter to give his speech. Perry said no thank you. Perry said voters need to beware of the Cap and Trade legislation being worked up on Capitol Hill. “The health care bill the Democrats want will be a disaster,” Perry said. “The Cap and Trade bill will be a disaster to the Southern states and Texas in particular. The president himself has said that energy costs will skyrocket. Electric bills will go way up. “Here is the sad part,” Perry said. “The administrator of the EPA herself has said that if passed it will not have a positive impact on the environment, but it will be a disaster for the United States.” Perry said that America needs to return more power to the states, as advised by Justice Louis Brandeis, who said, “America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered.” Perry said let one state try health care or Cap and Trade first. “If a state has an idea, it can try it out first,” Perry said. The governor said more states might want to try lowering taxes. “States should be the labatories of innovation,” Perry said. “I don’t think I could get the other 49 governors to admit that they want to be like Texas. ... at least publicly. ... but you better believe they would love to have the situation we have in Texas.” Perry cited recent announcements by the governor of New York that it might be almost out of money, and California, where the Golden State is having problems. Perry cautioned that Texas is also going through tough times along with the rest of the economy. “You have to create jobs, and one of the ways to do that is not to over-regulate and tax them,” he said. Perry cited Collin County has a place that’s struggling but moving forward. As thousands continue to move into Collin County, Perry told the group at Craig Ranch that David Craig was right. “This used to be farms and fields,” Perry said. “He was right. They have to move somewhere.” Perry said the way to get people to move in instead of leave is simple. “In government after you take care of the basic necessities, you have to get out of the way and let the private sector do what it needs to do.” Perry said that elected officials need to keep government off the backs of working people. “There is a lack of courage in Washington, D.C.,” Perry said. “There is a lack of courage in a whole bunch of states where they didn’t say no to all the special interest groups. “In Texas, we didn’t have a choice,” he said. “We got together and said, ‘If we are Republicans, then we are going to act like Republicans.” Perry said the key to the economy rebounding comes down to jobs. “I don’t make an apology for being a pro-jobs governor,” Perry said. “You can’t have the better schools, roads, processes and what have you unless you have the jobs. This is where you have to have the courage, have the vision and love for your state. ... Listen - if you can do it, it is not bragging.”

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Texas To Reduce Federal Claims Backlog for Veterans in Waco and Houston

November 13, 2009
The Gov. Monitor
Gov. Rick Perry today announced his office will fund up to 12 new veterans counselors to expedite benefits claims for veterans. The Governor’s Office funding will allow the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) to reduce the number of veterans’ claims pending at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regional offices in Waco and Houston. “The backlog of claims at the VA is a national crisis, and it is especially bad in Texas. It is unacceptable that veterans have to wait extraordinary amounts of time to receive their federal benefits,” Gov. Perry said. “Just as Washington fails to provide adequate border security and disaster relief for our citizens, the federal government is once again falling short in one of its most important responsibilities, in this case taking care of our Texas military veterans. With our veterans in mind this week, I look forward to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs working with Texas to ensure our veterans can quickly access the help and support that was promised to them.” The governor has directed TVC to create a new Claims Processing Assistance Team (CPAT) to help address the backlog of more than 39,000 pending disability and health benefit claims in Texas. The Waco regional office has over 18,000 pending claims with 35 percent pending for over four months while the Houston regional office has over 20,000 pending claims with 41 percent pending for over four months. CPAT will draw upon TVC’s expertise in helping veterans manage claims, and will work closely with the VA in all areas of the claims process to reduce the backlog. “On behalf of my fellow veterans, I would like to express my appreciation to Gov. Perry for enabling the Texas Veterans Commission to establish this special claims processing assistance team for Houston and Waco,” TVC Chair Brigadier General Karen Rankin said. “Nothing is more important than ensuring Texas veterans do not experience delays in receiving much needed medical care and compensation for service connected disabilities.” Claims backlogs delay decisions on veterans’ disability compensation and medical care, often causing physical and economic hardship for veterans and their families. For every month these claims are pending, TVC estimates a delay of nearly $37 million in payments to Texas veterans. “While I am troubled that the federal government has not acted on the matter of expediting veterans’ claims, I am delighted that the governor has taken the initiative to assist our veterans in this serious matter,” Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock said. “I believe these funds will certainly improve the unacceptable wait times for our disabled veterans to receive their much needed support.” TVC has a successful track record in special initiatives with the VA. In 2008, TVC and the VA participated in a pilot project that significantly reduced delays in claims processing, leading the VA Central Office in Washington, D.C. to instruct regional offices nationwide to adopt TVC’s claims processing methods as best practices. For more information, please visit http://www.tvc.state.tx.us.

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Perry: Obama 'hell-bent' on socialism

November 11, 2009
POLITICO
Andy Barr
Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry accused President Barack Obama on Wednesday of “punishing” Texas and being “hell-bent” on turning the United States into a socialist country. Speaking at a luncheon for a Midland County Republican Women’s group, Perry said that “this is an administration hell-bent toward taking American towards a socialist country. And we all don’t need to be afraid to say that because that’s what it is.” Perry praised the tea party movement to the Republican activists in attendance, crediting the grassroots groups with discouraging some Democrats in Washington from pushing for a public option in the health care bill. “If you all think those tea parties didn’t work, then let me tell you something,” Perry said. “When they all came home in August for those town hall meetings, they got an earful. Then they went back to Washington, D.C. and the Senate voted that public option down in committee with a majority of Democrats in the Senate.” Perry also accused the Obama administration of intentionally dumping illegal immigrants from other western states in Texas, recalling a conversation he had with local officials notifying him that illegal aliens that were caught in Nogales, Arizona were being dropped off by federal authorities in Presidio, Texas. “Friday a week ago, I got not a phone call from Washington, not a letter from Washington and as a matter of fact, I don’t think any member of our congressional delegation was even notified. The first time we were contacted was by the superintendent of the school and the county judge of Presidio County,” Perry said. “They said, ‘do you all know what’s fixin’ to happen?’ I said, ‘well, no. What’s going on?’ They said ‘the government has just called us and said for us to get ready for an influx of illegal aliens who were captured illegally crossing the border.’” “It’s called the alien transfer-and-exit program,” Perry told the crowd, “trucking them from Nogales, past El Paso down to our western border in Presidio.” The Texas governor said he sees the action as “punishing this state” and urged the assembled Republicans to “stand up” to Washington. “I say it’s time to make tea parties twice as big as what they were,” Perry declared. “I think it’s time for us to stand up and say to Washington, D.C. that we are no longer going to accept that kind of stuff sitting down and being quiet.”

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Texas Society of Anesthesiologists PAC Endorses Gov. Perry for Re-election

November 9, 2009
AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today received the endorsement of the Texas Society of Anesthesiologists PAC (TSAPAC) for re-election in 2010. "Gov. Perry's support of anesthesiologists has significantly improved quality of care and safety for the citizens of Texas," said TSA President Patrick Y. Giam, MD. "TSAPAC is proud to enthusiastically endorse Rick Perry for re-election as Governor of Texas." TSAPAC represents approximately 2,900 Texas anesthesiologists. Established in September 1993, the goal of the committee is to support the medical specialty of anesthesiology and the anesthesiology profession in the State of Texas. “Texas anesthesiologists represent an important segment of our health care industry and I am proud to have TSAPAC’s support in the upcoming election,” said Gov. Perry. “I will continue working with them and other health care professionals to meet the challenges facing our state and ensure that federal health care legislation currently before Congress does not compromise the flexibility Texas needs to deliver quality, cost-effective care.” TSAPAC joins the Texas Municipal Police Association, Texas Chemical Council, Texas Society of Professional Engineers, RNC Committeewoman Cathie Adams, Texas Right to Life, Houston Realty Business Coalition, Texas Apartment Association, Texas Republican County Chairman Association President Linda Rogers, Heidi Group Founder Carol Everett, Texas Alliance for Life, Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association PAC, Texas Home School Coalition PAC, Texans for Life Coalition President Kyleen Wright, Conservative Republicans of Texas President Dr. Steve Hotze, Free Market Foundation President Kelly Shackelford, Texas Chiropractic Association, Americans for Prosperity* State Director Peggy Venable, the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters, Texas Association of Realtors, Texas Civil Justice League PAC, Texas Oil Gas Association President Rob Looney, Concerned Women for America State Director Ann Hettinger, Texas Optometric Association PAC, Texas Pest Control Association, energy entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens, Texas Recreational Vehicle Association, Texas Poultry Federation, Justice at the Gate Founder Alice Patterson, Texas Cattle Feeders Beef-PAC, Eagle Forum Founder Phyllis Schlafly, Texas Pharmacy Business Council, Texas Podiatric Medical Association, Texas Association for Interior Design, former Texas Republican Party Chairman Susan Weddington, former U.S. Secretary of Education Bill Bennett, Family Research Council Action PAC Chairman Tony Perkins, WallBuilders President and Founder David Barton, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Texas Association of Builders HOMEPAC and Texas Medical Associaition TEXPAC in their endorsement of Gov. Perry. *Organization listed for identification purposes only, Americans for Prosperity itself does not endorse candidates.
Texas Society of Anesthesiologists PAC (TSAPAC)

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Let states lead the way: Washington's one-size-fits-all reform won't work

November 6, 2009
Washington Post
Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry
Congress is on the verge of enacting the largest unfunded mandate in American history. At a time when most states are struggling with rising unemployment, declining tax revenue and the worst national economic climate in 30 years, Congress is demonstrating that it is more out of touch than ever. The Democratic health "reform" bill in the Senate would require states to expand Medicaid to include all people earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or $29,327 for a family of four. House Democrats want to require expansion to 150 percent of the poverty level, or $33,075 for a family of four. Even Texas, which has a balanced budget and nearly $9 billion in its rainy-day fund, isn't prepared to absorb this type of blow. Complaints from majorities of Republican and Democratic governors alike continue to fall on deaf ears. Congress seems intent on forcing a one-size-fits-all mandate on states, some of which actually have solutions to repair their health-care systems that Washington is preventing them from trying. Texas, for example, has adopted approaches to controlling health-care costs while improving choice, advancing quality of care and expanding coverage. Consider the successful 2003 tort reform. Fewer frivolous lawsuits have attracted record numbers of doctors to the state as medical malpractice insurance premiums dropped by half. Christus Health, a large Catholic nonprofit system with a significant presence in Texas, spent about $100 million on liability defense payments in 2003. Last year, Christus spent $2.3 million on such payments. Much of that savings has gone into expanding health-care services in low-income neighborhoods. You might think Washington would be curious about plans to provide more low-income Texans with insurance, reduce expensive emergency-room visits for basic care and make it easier to buy into employer-sponsored insurance. Unfortunately, Washington has failed for 18 months to give Texas permission to use Medicaid dollars for these policies. Historically, the federal government has paid an average of 57 percent of state Medicaid costs. In a transparent attempt to bribe governors and state legislatures into accepting 15 million to 20 million new people nationwide onto Medicaid rolls, Congress is proposing a series of additional subsidies to states to cover 90 percent of the costs of the newly mandated populations. In true Washington form, these handouts would be debt-financed, through the generosity of foreign bankers, to be paid back by future generations of American taxpayers. Expanding the Medicaid program in Texas alone to include an additional 2 million people would cost $20 billion to $30 billion over the next 10 years. Regardless of how that cost is shared between the federal and state governments down the road, we believe that level of new mandated spending is grossly unacceptable. Even more stunning than this fiscal irresponsibility is Congress's disregard for the quality of the Medicaid program and the well-being of the people in it. Medicaid is the lowest payer in the health-care system. It reimburses physicians 20 to 30 percent less than even Medicare, which pays costs at a much lower rate than do private insurers. If a doctor or hospital is facing bills, staff salaries and medical malpractice premiums, it is obvious which patients will get preference. We note with concern that the Government Accountability Office reported in January that Medicaid made an estimated $32.7 billion in improper payments in 2007, equal to a full 10 percent of the program. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) pointed out that the average improper payment rate for non-health government programs is 3.9 percent. He introduced an amendment in the Senate Finance Committee that would have prevented expansions of Medicaid until the secretary of health and human services could certify that its improper payment rate was equivalent to that of non-health programs, but that amendment failed on a party-line vote. The rate of improper payments needs to be addressed. The Democratic health-care proposals do nothing to expand choice, lower costs and empower patients. They would add to, without reforming, bulky, overpriced programs that would in turn add to our already crushing burden of national debt. Reckless expansion would ultimately reduce the quality of U.S. medical care. Such tragedies can be averted if the powers-that-be in Washington set aside their devotion to centrally planned, debt-financed, one-size-fits-all solutions and work cooperatively with those laboratories of innovation known as states. Otherwise, we'll end up with a one-size-hurts-all situation. <em>Newt Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation, was speaker of the House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. Rick Perry is governor of Texas.</em>

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The Big-Spending, High-Taxing, Lousy-Services Paradigm

Autumn 2009
City Journal
William Voegeli
“Twenty years ago, you could go to Texas, where they had very low taxes, and you would see the difference between there and California,” Joel Kotkin, executive editor of NewGeography.com and a presidential fellow at Chapman University in Southern California, told the Los Angeles Times this past March. “Today, you go to Texas, the roads are no worse, the public schools are not great but are better than or equal to ours, and their universities are good. The bargain between California’s government and the middle class is constantly being renegotiated to the disadvantage of the middle class.” Similarly, the CEO of a manufacturing company in suburban Los Angeles told a Times reporter that his business suffered less from California’s high taxes than from its ineffectual services. As a result, the company pays “a fortune” to educate its employees, many of whom graduated from California public schools, “on basic things like writing and math skills.” According to a report issued earlier this year by McKinsey & Company, Texas students “are, on average, one to two years of learning ahead of California students of the same age,” though expenditures per public school student are 12 percent higher in California. State and local government expenditures as a whole were 46.8 percent higher in California than in Texas in 2005–06—$10,070 per person compared with $6,858. And Texas not only spends its citizens’ dollars more effectively; it emphasizes priorities that are more broadly beneficial. In 2005–06, per-capita spending on transportation was 5.9 percent lower in California than in Texas, and highway expenditures in particular were 9.5 percent lower, a discovery both plausible and infuriating to any Los Angeles commuter losing the will to live while sitting in yet another freeway traffic jam. With tax revenues scarce and voters strongly opposed to surrendering more of their income, Texas officials devote a large share of their expenditures to basic services that benefit the most people. In California, by contrast, more and more spending consists of either transfer payments to government dependents (as in welfare, health, housing, and community development programs) or generous payments to government employees and contractors (reflected in administrative costs, pensions, and general expenditures). Both kinds of spending weaken California’s appeal to consumer-voters, the first because redistributive transfer payments are the least publicly beneficial type of public good, and the second because the dues paid to Club California purchase benefits that, increasingly, are enjoyed by the staff instead of the members.

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Texas docs endorse Perry

November 2, 2009
Austin American-Statesman
Corrie MacLaggan
The Texas Medical Association’s political arm, TEXPAC, today announced its endorsement of Gov. Rick Perry’s re-election campaign. The group selected Perry because of his “unwavering support and defense of Texas’ medical liability reforms and his efforts to protect the sacred patient-physician bond,” said Dr. William Fleming III, president of the association.

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Tort Reform Is Key To Health Reform

November 2, 2009
The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel
Tiger Joyce
In an August column appearing in the San Francisco Examiner, Texas Governor Rick Perry wrote: "Just six years ago, Texas was mired in a health care crisis. Our doctors were leaving the state, or abandoning the profession entirely, because of frivolous lawsuits and the steadily increasing medical malpractice insurance premiums that resulted." But Texas has since joined 24 other states by enacting reforms that include a reasonable limit on non-economic damages for pain and suffering of up to $750,000 per incident. This essential reform does not limit compensatory awards for calculable lost wages and medical expenses, but it does balance the interests of patients and care providers while helping to ensure access to necessary care. Now, according to Governor Perry, doctors' insurance rates have declined by an average of 27 percent while the "number of doctors applying to practice medicine in Texas has skyrocketed by 57 percent. In . . . just the first five years after reforms passed, 14,498 doctors either returned to practice in Texas or began practicing here for the first time."

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Texas Medical Association TEXPAC Endorses Gov. Perry for Re-election

November 2, 2009
Gov. Rick Perry today accepted the endorsement of TEXPAC, the political arm of the Texas Medical Association, for re-election in 2010. “It is an honor to be here today with the good people of the Texas Medical Association and a humbling experience to gain your endorsement of my candidacy,” said Gov. Rick Perry. “I am grateful for the care you provide our citizens every day in the fulfillment of your life’s calling, and I accept your endorsement as an affirmation of my record, an encouragement to keep working and a challenge to stay on point.” Upon accepting the endorsement, Gov. Perry noted the importance of lawsuit reform when considering proposed health care legislation in Washington, citing the benefits such reforms have brought to Texas. Since Texas implemented lawsuit reforms in 2003, the number of doctors applying to practice in Texas has increased 57 percent and 14,498 doctors either returned to practice in Texas or began practicing here for the first time. This increase has brought critical specialties to underserved areas of the state including 27 percent more obstetricians practicing in rural Texas and 200 new doctors in the Rio Grande Valley. Ten new insurance carriers have also entered the Texas market, contributing to a 27 percent decrease in doctors’ insurance rates. “We thank Governor Perry for his leadership and look forward to continuing to work with him shoulder to shoulder to improve the health of all Texans,” said TMA President William H. Fleming III, MD, speaking on behalf of TEXPAC. “We are excited about working with him through the 2010 election and the 82nd Texas Legislature. The TEXPAC Board endorsed Governor Perry because of his unwavering support and defense of Texas’ medical liability reforms and his efforts to protect the sacred patient-physician bond. We appreciate his guidance to ensure prompt payment by health insurance companies and his strong support to provide physicians meaningful and real opportunities to serve in rural and underserved areas.”
Texas Medical Association TEXPAC

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