As a general rule of thumb I heard somewhere, fact checkers don’t check facts.
Fact checkers exist to put an objective, nonpartisan veneer on whatever some reporter wants to say. And when fact checkers take it upon themselves to be arbiters of truth, they use their own biases. One of the worst is Politifact, which the media now hides behind routinely to give cover to a left-of-center spin on truth.
There is an egregious example today over the number of doctors in Texas and whether tort reform mattered.
According to Politifact, tort reform did not impact the number of doctors in Texas.
There is no question that tort reform drove down medical malpractice insurance premiums and reduced the number of malpractice suits. And there is no question that most health care providers like the change and say it’s a factor that leads them to practice in the state. But the wholesale transformation that Perry describes is not backed up by the numbers.
Perry said Texas has 21,000 more doctors thanks to tort reform. That’s flat out wrong. Texas has only about 13,000 more doctors in the state and the historic trends suggest that population growth was the driving factor. We rate his statement False.
Politifact chose to rely on many sources that could be considered left-leaning, some with real axes to grind with Rick Perry over budget cuts.
Politifact also ignored that, well, doctors retire and also the number of out of state medical licenses are down, while Texas originated medical licenses are up.
Oh, and there is one left leaning source the Politifact chose to ignore entirely — the New York Times.Contrary to Politifact, back in 2007, the New York Times titled an article, “More Doctors in Texas After Malpractice Caps”. It went on to report
In Texas, it can be a long wait for a doctor: up to six months.
That is not for an appointment. That is the time it can take the Texas Medical Board to process applications to practice.
Four years after Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment limiting awards in medical malpractice lawsuits, doctors are responding as supporters predicted, arriving from all parts of the country to swell the ranks of specialists at Texas hospitals and bring professional health care to some long-underserved rural areas.
The influx, raising the state’s abysmally low ranking in physicians per capita, has flooded the medical board’s offices in Austin with applications for licenses, close to 2,500 at last count.
How convenient Politifact chose to ignore an article written in a year when Rick Perry was not running for office and opponents had no axe to grind to hurt his political electability.
It’s not just the New York Times Politifact chose to ignore. How about the Houston Chronicle.
Dozens of Texas ER doctors swarmed Capitol Hill this week to tell lawmakers that the Lone Star State has just the prescription for what ails a health-care industry burdened by runaway costs: limiting big-bucks lawsuits against physicians.
That’s what Texas did in 2003, when the Legislature placed a cap on the so-called “noneconomic” damages that can be awarded in medical liability cases. The reform’s supporters say it protects doctors from “frivolous” lawsuits that ultimately drive up insurance premiums – and also makes the state an enormously popular destination for doctors, a key selling point as experts warn the nation may need 150,000 more physicians to treat the newly insured once the federal health-care law takes effect.
Or what about the Wall Street Journal where Joe Nixon the Texas Public Policy Foundation noted, “Over the past three years, some 7,000 M.D.s have flooded into Texas, many from Tennessee.”
Or what about the Texas Academy of Family Physicians. Though Politifact did have a chat with the head of the group, and the head of the group did attribute growth to population, Politifact chose to ignore that TAFP also attributes the growth in doctors to tort reform.
Along with an influx of carriers is a dramatic increase in the number of physician license requests, including a “record number” from out-of-state doctors. The Texas Medical Board received 4,026 new physician license applications in fiscal 2006, which ran from Sept. 1, 2005 to Aug. 31, 2006. In 2001, the Board received only 2,446 applications. The numbers for half of 2007 have already nearly surpassed those for all of 2001—reaching 2,423 as of March with more than 2,700 licenses pending.
Out of the new licenses granted in 2006, 42 percent went to out-of-state physicians, 31 percent went to Texas physicians and 27 percent went to international physicians, according to statistics from TMA’s Medical Education Division.
Oh, and then of course there is the Texas Medical Association’s own graph, which paints the detail in striking terms:
But, you know, it’s all population growth according to Politifact. If we are to believe them, then they ought to go through other states that saw population growth like Texas and did not enact and do not have Texas style tort reform.
I’m not actually sure such a place exists. Until it does, Politifact’s fact is nothing more than their left-wing hypothesis disconnected from and ignoring every data point that doesn’t help them make their case.