Reader Response – Texas Malpractice Reform

I was going to make a witty comment on how “I love getting the emails that accuse me of lying or dishonesty”, but the truth of the matter is I don’t.  And believe me – I get plenty of them.

I’ll say this again for everyone’s benefit.  I have no ulterior agenda other than discussing health care reform.  I’m not interested in how it advances political agendas.  I’m not interested in getting anyone elected.  I’m not trying to deceive you in order to achieve some “other goal”.  This is it.

I hope many of you notice, as well, that I don’t post any reader responses telling me how awesome I am, or how correct I am.  I get those, too, (thank goodness), but the purpose of the Reader Response isn’t to convince you I’m right.  It’s to provide another perspective, sometimes acknowledge my prior posts require a change, or to respond to a common meme that needs rebuttal.  This is one of those.

A reader responds:

This is in respose to your February 5th blog post “Reader question – Doesn’t Texas prove you wrong?” which includes a graph of Texas Doctors per 100,000 people which you copied from the Public Citizen web posting “Liability Limits in Texas Fail to Curb Medical Costs.” It is disappointing that you relied on incomplete data from one graph to conclude that “Since tort reform, the number of doctors remains stable. . .” which is NOT TRUE. That graph shows “Doctors per 100,000 people” which has trended up and then a bit down since tort reform, but you neglect to consider the explosive population growth in Texas. Actual new numbers of licensed physicians per year have increased tremendously since tort reform (I will append the data but cannot cut and paste it here); The TMB stats for new physicians licensed: FY2001=287, 2002=321 2003 (tort reform passed)=430, 2004=553, 2005 – 2009 = 622,652,687, 641,820 respectively. In my county we added 403 new physicians between 2003 and 2007. Without the physician increase following tort reform, we would be even further behind per capita. The U.S. Census Bureau statistics that I accessed show that from Aug 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008 Texas population increased 16.7% (20,851,811) which is over twice as much as the U.S. increase of 8% for the same time frame. So the ACTUAL NUMBER of doctors has INCREASED, which has kept our per capita number of doctors from declining.

I stand by my point.  The important statistic is the number of doctors per population, not the total number of doctors.  When the population increases, the total number of doctors should increase.  I don’t give anyone credit for that.  In the same way, I wouldn’t ding Texas if the population went down and the total number of doctors went down.  What is important is the number of doctors per population.  If Texas was a more desirable place to practice, then the number of doctors moving in should go up faster than the population, even if it were growing.  That’s not really happening.

Another way to put it.  I love when during an election, someone trots out the line that “there are more CT scanners in California than in all of Canada.”  Yes.  There are also more people in California than in all of Canada.  What’s important is not the total number, but the number per population.

Nevertheless, please do keep the emails coming. I really do learn from many of them.

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