The second Health and Human Services presentation was a panel discussion of Texas Proposition 12, the 2003 constitutional amendment that limits patient damages in malpractice suits. The Tribune provided great live coverage of this and other presentations at the festival.

The panelists were generally split on the question of whether tort reform is good for health care in Texas. Defense attorney Michael Hull, chairman of the Texas Alliance for Patient Access, argued that tort reform lowers the cost of practice and brings more doctors to the state. Plaintiff’s attorney Jay Harvey and University of Illinois law professor David Hyman both thought that more doctors are practicing in Texas because the population is growing, not necessarily because the cost of doing business is lower. They also took issue with the idea that the per capita rate of direct care physicians is the appropriate gauge of whether tort reform has been beneficial overall. Perhaps quality of care is the better indicator.