Did Texas Lose Physicians in 2006? Is Tort Reform to Blame?

Cross-posted from Tort Deform: The Civil Justice Defense Blog

by Professor Charles Silver

Tort reformers argue that Texas lost physicians before it curtailed patients' rights in 2003 and gained them rapidly thereafter.  The Texas Alliance for Patient Access (TAPA) and the Texas Medical Association (TMA) have asserted this repeatedly, as has Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Statistics compiled by the Texas Department of Health (TDH) do not support their claims.  TDH's numbers show that Texas' physician population grew more slowly in 2004 and 2005 than in the years before tort reform.  They also show that Texas lost 514 direct patient care physicians in 2006.  The 2006 decline is the first in 17 years.  Given the eagerness with which tort reformers take credit for every new doctor who arrives in the state, it is tempting to chalk up this reversal of fortunes to them as well.

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Really Really Lowering the Cost of Meds. Not Just Pretending To

In an excellent post Tuesday,"Businessweek Shows What Wall Street Dems Mean By the 'Kabuki Dance" David Sirota wrote:

Last week, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) told the New York Times that the Democratic Party must engage in a "kabuki dance" to make it look like they are pushing a progressive agenda, while not really challenging entrenched power. But what does that mean in practice? We can look to a new <u>Businessweek</u&gt story for clues.

The post goes on to explain how while President, Bill Clinton supported a bill that purported to rein in  exorbitant pay packages for executives he was  simultaneously maneuvering behind the scenes to make so many loopholes in the law that it wouldn't matter anyway.

That's a good illustration of what I fear could happen if the public isn't engaged in the debate when Congress decides what to do about the deadly unaffordability of prescription drugs.

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Democratic Legislative Priorities Demanded By Voters

Democratic Legislative Priorities Demanded By Voters

Congressional Democrats are on notice. They must pass legislation in a few key areas quickly to keep their jobs. The anger shown by voters in defeating Republican incumbents will be turned on Democrats if they fail to address key issues.

Of course, we need to get out of Iraq. This issue has seen plenty of attention by other pundits and the mainstream media so this column will not cover it in depth.

We should increase the minimum wage and index future increases to inflation. The goal must be to have all American workers earn a living wage. The American nation needs to address the plight of the working poor.

Congress has to dramatically increase financial aid for college students in the form of scholarships and grants. We must reduce the debt burden faced by college students from student loans.

Democrats in Congress will have to pass legislation that requires broadcasters to conform to the Fairness Doctrine. They must reduce the ability of the FCC to exempt corporations from regulations concerning monopoly ownership in media markets. Laws need to be passed that encourage local media ownership, content diversity and minority ownership.

National standards for voting machines and uniform practices should be mandated by Congress. Verified voting procedures, with easy recounts in close races, must be required by law in every election. The right to have all votes counted should be formalized in law. Public officeholders whose actions deny voting rights to large groups of voters should face serious felony criminal charges and long sentences in prison

We must expand the healthcare rights of all citizens. We need to rapidly move toward single-payer, government provided universal healthcare under Medicare. It is a national disgrace that Americans spend so much of our national wealth on healthcare for such meager results. We are the last major industrialized nation on the planet not to have government provided universal healthcare.

Our national economy must reverse course on outsourcing of good paying American jobs. We must rebuild our industrial base or face a rapid decline of our international power. Our national security is being threatened by an insane trade policy. The self-interest of our nation must come before the profits of large international corporations.

America must move rapidly to expanded alternative and renewable energy sources. Our national energy policy cannot be designed by the oil industry. We need a national push for ethanol production, solar power, bio-diesel and wind power. Our tax codes should massively reward energy efficient building practices.

Stricter limits must be placed on the role of money in American politics. We must find a way to halt campaign money flowing from large corporations and corrupting our political system.

If Democrats move quickly to take action on these problems, we can dominant American politics for a generation or more. If not, we will have difficulty in retaining majority control of Congress.

Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com .) Mail: P.O. Box 283, Earleville, Maryland 21919. Phone: 443-907-2367. Email: midsouthcm@aol.com .

Feel free to publish without prior permission at no charge.

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Nursing Issues - Condition Critical

This is a short diary.  Before the 110th Congress gets down to business, the freshman are hard at work in orientation, and new committee chairs are working behind the scenes to set the agenda.

Professional nursing has become increasingly critical in the US healthcare policy debate and reform.  The nursing shortage is still on a steady rise.  There are so few faculty that thousands of qualified students are turned away or are deferred from entry into basic programs for years.

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Free Market Values

With the lame duck 109th Congress exiting shortly (and with the hope that it will uphold its do-nothing reputation to the bitter end so as not to cause yet more harm to the Constitution and citizens), both the House and Senate are preparing their legislative agendas, and the 2008 presidential hopefuls (you know who you are) are beginning to stake out issues and platforms to try out on the road.

Health care will be back with a vengeance, and so before the fur and snow flies, here are a few foundational principles upon which to chew.

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