Caps Have No Impact On Doctor Supply

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Some argue that caps on compensation for victims of medical negligence prevent doctors from leaving a state because of liability fears. This claim is demonstrably false.

There are more doctors per capita in states without caps than in states with caps

Number physicians

  • In 2019, the Association of American Medical Colleges’ State Physician Workforce Data Book report shows there are 15.48 percent more physicians per capita in states without caps than in states with caps.
  • According to the same report, California has fewer doctors per capita than 20 other states. 11 of those 20 states have no cap on damages. As of 2019, states that have no caps on medical malpractice damages and more doctors per capita than California are: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • According to the Association of Medical Colleges’ 2015 State Physician Workforce Data Book, California had fewer doctors per capita in 2015 than 19 other states. 11 of those 19 states had no cap on damages.
  • The American Medical Association’s 2013 Physician Characteristics and Distribution report revealed that, in 2011, there were 22 percent more physicians per capita in states without caps than in states with caps.

Caps do not have a measurable effect on doctor supply

  • A 2015 study in the International Review of Law and Economics showed that the imposition of a cap on pain and suffering damages in 2003 had no measurable effect on Texas’ doctor supply. This was true for all patient care physicians, high-practice-risk specialties, primary care physicians, and rural physicians in Texas.
  • A 2016 study by Northwestern University Law School examined caps enacted in nine states and compared these data to twenty no-cap states. The study found no evidence that the adoption of a cap leads to an increase in total patient care physicians, increases in high-practice-risk specialties (with a possible exception for plastic surgeons), or increases in rural physicians.
  • The same 2016 study concluded that the reasons doctors might leave or stay in California are many, but there is no evidence that the cap is the driver. 

Active Physicians Chart


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