Texas counties without obstetricians in 2003 before Proposition 12 passed. Source: Texas Medical Board Krista Moody, Perry’s deputy press secretary. Moody noted that the Texas Medical Board is having to add staff to handle a backlog of doctors applying for state licenses. Those doctors are following the Willie Sutton model: They’re going, understandably, where the better-paying jobs and career opportunities are, to the wealthy suburbs of Dallas and Houston, to growing places with larger, better-equipped hospitals and burgeoning medical communities. 0 n a Texas map inside the beguiling-baby mailer, blood red marked the 152 counties in Texas that did not have obstetricians in 2003. Rural doctor shortages were kept front and center as the state’s physicians, led by the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, campaigned for Proposition 12. A flier printed by the TMA in English and Spanish and posted in waiting rooms across the state told patients that “152 counties in Texas now have no obstetrician. Wide swaths of Texas have no neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon. … The primary culprit for this crisis is an explosion in awards for non vote “YES!” on 12!” As of September 2007, the number of counties without obstetricians is unchanged-152 counties still have none, according to the Observer’s examination of county-by-county data at the state Medical Board. Nearly half of Texas counties-124, or 49 percenthave no obstetrician, neurosurgeon, or orthopedic surgeon. Those specialists aside, 21 Texas counties have no physician of any kind. That’s one county worse than before Proposition 12 passed, when 20 counties had no doctor. The TMA counts 186 new obstetricians in Texas since Proposition 12 passed, and President Dr. William Hinchey offers that as proof of tort reform’s effectiveness. No independent study has shown what caused the increase, though Texas medical schools have graduated increasing numbers, by the hundreds, of physicians every year since 1997, the earliest year for which TMB posts data. And the state’s growth probably played some part. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Texas’ population grew 12.7 percent between 2000 and 2006, compared with 6.4 percent for the country as a Nearly half of Texas counties 124, or 49 percenthave no obstetrician, neurosurgeon, or orthopedic surgeon…21 Texas counties have no physician of any kind. 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 19, 2007
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