http://www.opinionjournal.com/cc/?id=110008328 Prodigal State Tort reform brings doctors back to Texas. BY NEWT GINGRICH AND JOHN T. GILL Thursday, May 4, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT EXCERPT DALLAS--The Senate is once again taking up the issue of medical justice reform. If senators want to expand access to health care by increasing the number of physicians and lowering costs, they need to look at Texas. In the summer of 2003 the Texas Legislature enacted important medical litigation reform. A voter-approved constitutional amendment, Proposition 12, followed later that year to solidify the changes. As a result, physicians are returning to the state, particularly in underserved specialties and counties. Insurance premiums to protect against frivolous lawsuits have declined dramatically, with the state's largest carrier reporting declines up to 22% and other carriers reducing premiums by an average of 13%. The number of lawsuits filed against doctors has been cut almost in half. Prior to the successful reform effort, personal injury lawyers had put Texas doctors on the run. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, the frequency of claims was increasing at a rate of 4.6% annually--between 1996 and 2000 alone, one out of four doctors was sued. These surging legal and insurance bills reduced patient access to health care. Texas fell to 48th out of 50 in physician manpower. There were 152 medical doctors per 100,000 citizens, well below the U.S. average of 196. Some 158 counties had no obstetrician. Good, competent doctors were closing their doors, unable to afford the cost of insurance.