October 07, 2007
More tort "reform" commentary

The NYT had a story on Friday about an increase in the number of doctors in Texas, which is being claimed by tort "reformers" as proof of their success. I've been over this ground plenty of times, so I'm going to cede the floor to the Drum Major Institute and to New York personal injury attorney Eric Turkewitz, both of whom criticize the statistics presented in the story. Check them both out, then consider the logic of S. C. Gwynne, who notes a simple reason for the doc increase:

The population is skyrocketing. So much so that, within the next ten years, fully 6 million new people are going to be living here, the equivalent of downloading the entire state of Kentucky into Texas. The docs are going where the people are.

Makes sense to me.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 07, 2007 to Legal matters

Kuff, as the husband of a doctor I'd say there are several factors in play which I would rank in order of their significance:

1. Texas is where the jobs are. This is mostly due to population growth. Around any of Texas' major and minor cities you see whole new suburbs popping up overnight. Following closely on the heels of the subdivisions are new hospitals and clinical group offices. Since the number of Texas medical schools and residency programs really hasn't increased in the past 10 years, these new docs have to come from someplace else.

2. Equity and cost of living refugees. In the past few years, even doctors are getting priced out of the upper-middle class lifestyle in expensive areas like California. A doctor's salary goes twice as far in Texas as it does in the more expensive coastal states.

3. Perception. The perception in the medical community is that Texas is a safe place to practice. The reality may be different, but that is indeed the perception. I page through my wife's trade magazines from time to time and Texas does now rank up there as one of the top 2-3 states to pracice medicine these days, according to these magazines. Other top states are places like Nebraska and Indiana. The sorts of surveys I'm talking about are about as rigorous as the annual "best places to live" surveys by CNN. But these articles do get read.

Posted by: Kent from Waco on October 7, 2007 10:42 AM