The Texas stampede of physicians

There is a one-year waiting list for physician license applications in Texas, thanks to malpractice caps:

Meanwhile, about 2,250 license applications await processing at the Texas Medical Board in Austin. The wait could be as long as a year for some of the more experienced doctors because it takes longer to review their records.

The fear is that some doctors will give up on Texas and go elsewhere instead of waiting. A $1.22 million emergency funding request was approved during the last days of Texas legislative session for the Texas Medical Board, which licenses physicians. That is on top of the $18.3 million regular biennial appropriation, said Jane McFarland, the board’s chief of staff.

The board plans to add nine new employees to its 139-member staff, seven of which will help chop away at the backlog of license applications.

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  • Anonymous

    Given that the number of new physicians has not increased on a per capita basis in Texas, attributing it to anything other than population growth is risky.

    Interesting that Tennessee was cited, since it has also experienced new insurers and rate decreases, and it doesn’t have a cap:

    http://www.dayontorts.com/tort-reform-svmic-lowers-rates.html#discussion

    Doh!

  • Anonymous

    “Given that the number of new physicians has not increased on a per capita basis in Texas, attributing it to anything other than population growth is risky.”

    No, it is not risky. In fact it follows logically. Physicians must enter Texas legally to practice and as the article states there is a long credentialing backlog.

    Texas’ residents do not have to enter Texas legally, and the last time I checked there was no wait to be admitted on any of Texas’ borders.

  • Anonymous

    ….and that link above is to a tort lawyer’s website. Assuming the numbers are true (now THAT is risky!), it shows that more than a quarter of specialties are having their rates RAISED! These were noted to be the following:

    “…Internal Medicine +3.3%,
    Infectious Disease, Hospitalists +3.3%, Gastroenterology + 5.0%,
    Interventional Cardiology + 5.8%, Pathology +10.0%,
    Emergency Medicine +15.0%”

    Now back to Texas. On the Texas Medical Liability Trust website, the following was :

    “September 12, 2006…The Board of Governors of Texas Medical Liability Trust (TMLT) has declared a 20% dividend amounting to approximately $35 million for 2006 effective January 1, 2007 for renewing TMLT policyholders. Dividends will be credited to each policyholder’s premium as a lump sum when his or her policy renews in 2007.

    In addition, the Trust will be reducing rates 7.5% for all specialties across the state beginning January 1, 2007. Current TMLT policyholders will receive this rate decrease when their policy renews.

    TMLT has now reduced annual rates four times since the passage of House Bill 4 and Proposition 12—12% in 2004; 5% in 2005; 5% in 2006; and now 7.5% in 2007, a total of 29.5% in four years. By the end of 2007, TMLT’s rate reductions, since 2004 will amount to nearly $139 million and returned dividends of 25% will amount to nearly $45 million. Since the passage of Prop 12 and medical liability reform of 2003, TMLT policyholders will have realized cumulative savings of over $180 million.

    Non-meritorious claims intake is down as a result of the medical liability reform achievements in 2003. TMLT believes the legal environment will continue to improve as long as 2003 tort reform measures remain in effect.

    Because of TMLT’s recent earnings and strong surplus position, physician policyholders can share in the organization’s success in the form of rate reductions and dividends.

    Case closed.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for posting the TMLT trust’s numbers. What that tells you is that you’ve been overcharged for the previous few years, and that losses were nowhere near what they set reserves for. In effect, the “crisis” didn’t exist.

    Go check their payout figures and you’ll see. The payouts are what matters – and they’ve stayed consistent. The number of doctors hasn’t even increased with the population.

    “Non-meritorious claims intake is down”? How do you know what cases are or are not meritorious? Have you looked at the records?

  • Anonymous

    Texas also leads the nation in carbon emission pollutants. Go, enjoy.

  • scalpel

    To heck with the carbon.

    I enjoy not getting sued. Yay for us!

  • Anonymous

    You enjoy people not being able to recover for the harm you cause?

    If you can live with yourself, I guess that’s all that matters.

    See you during the next “crisis”! You might avoid getting hurt at the hands of another in the meantime.

  • scalpel

    Nope, I’ve never caused any harm to a patient, and yet I was sued 5 times prior to 2003 and none since.

    Go figure! I enjoy not having to deal with greedy a-hole attorneys. Go fight some traffic tickets, why don’t cha!?!

  • Anonymous

    If you think all doctors cause harm. Problem solved don’t go see any of them. Take some Gingo Biloba, adjust your chi and hope you or your family never need to see a physician.

  • J. Hubbard, MD

    I attempted to apply for a Texas license between 11/04 and 11/05 spending $1,100. Cumbersome, slow, and complex. There is a one year limitation on completion of all items required. I gave up at the end of a year.

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