Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is disputing the Houston Chronicle’s characterization of his claim that the Texas health care system — despite having the highest uninsured rate in the country — should serve as a model of reform:
Needless to say, the headline did not accurately reflect Senator Cornyn’s views…Instead, while relating several reasons why Texas’s economy is in better shape than most other U.S. states, he mentioned the 2003 law reforming medical malpractice law in Texas [Proposition 12]. Since its passage, doctors and medical school graduates have been flocking to Texas, providing health care services in underserved areas and improving patient access in others.
But as the Boston Globe points out, even as “doctors move into Texas in far greater numbers, they tend to locate in the same urban areas — undercutting one of the strongest arguments for Proposition 12.”
Indeed, while the number of physicians practicing in Texas has increased, “under-served areas” remain under-served:
Rate of Growth of Doctors Licensed to Practice in Rural and Underserved Regions of TexasRegion200420052006Panhandle and South Plains3.19%0.33%-0.52%North Texas (exc. DFW Area)1.42%1.40%-0.63%Northeast Texas4.78%1.06%-0.83%Deep East & Southeast Texas1.72%-0.50%2.10%Rural West Texas-1.60%-0.27%-0.14%South Texas2.52%3.55%2.5%
During debate over the proposition, proponents of cutting jury awards in malpractice claims argued that “malpractice laws were responsible for shortages of doctors in rural” and specifically highlighted “152 counties that did not have an obstetrician.” But as of September 2007, “the same number of counties remains without one… [and] 124 counties have no obstetrician, neurosurgeon, or orthopedic surgeon.”