This is important, though, because if Congress changes hands on November 2 we’re going to be fighting med mal myths, once again. One of the most common, which we have covered many times (here, here), is that doctors just flooded into Texas (and its underserved rural areas) after – and due to – enactment of a draconian “cap” on compensation for injured patients. Both the Texas Observer and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram have been on top of the “debunking,” and yesterday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram carried a new headline that said it all: “JPS official warns Texas legislators of doctor shortage.”
Yes, that’s right. A doctors’ shortage looms in Texas, and this comes after injured Texans relinquished their legal rights because the insurance and medical lobbies told them this was the only way to prevent a doctor shortage in Texas. The Star-Telegram reports:
With a ratio of 158 doctors per 100,000 residents, Texas ranks 42nd among the 50 states and District of Columbia, according to the Texas Medical Association. The shortage is expected to worsen as the state's population grows and the healthcare overhaul is enacted.
"We are at a shortage of physicians of all types in Texas, both primary care and specialty care," [Dr. Gary Floyd, JPS Health Network chief medical officer] said. "We would love to see this addressed in our new healthcare reform. How do we train more physicians?"
There is a reason for this, of course: “[C]aps and cuts in Medicare and Medicaid funding, which help pay for residencies. Those have forced many healthcare agencies to freeze or scale back residency programs.”
In other words, what’s the solution to doctors’ shortages? Increased Medicare and Medicaid funding, incentives to encourage doctors to practice in rural areas - pretty much anything except “tort reform.” (See more detail here.)
In other words, to quote Edvard Munch, "Aarrgghh!!"