Texas Watch

Perry’s Lame Health Care Retort

Perry’s Lame Health Care Retort

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Former Gov. Rick Perry lamely defended his record on access to health care. When pressed about our state’s chronically high rate of citizens without health insurance, Perry said that isn’t how he “keeps score.” He trotted out the same, tired talking points touting what he calls “sweeping tort reforms” passed more than a decade ago. Perry ignores key facts about the failure of these so-called “reforms” to improve the overall health or safety of Texas patients.

  • Physician Supply and Access to Care. Texas ranks near the bottom in the number of doctors who actually see patients and Texas persistently has the highest rate of people without health insurance. According to a 2012 academic study that looked physician supply data, legal scholars concluded: “Physician supply was not stunted prior to reform, and it did not measurably improve after reform. This is true whether one looks at the number of patient care physicians in Texas, the number of Texas physicians in high-malpractice-risk specialties, or the number of physicians per capita in Texas relative to other states.” Moreover, Governor Perry’s claims about Texas gaining doctors due to tort reform have been thoroughly investigated and determined to be outright false by the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact.
  • Health Care Costs. Health care costs for Texas families and taxpayers continue to be higher than the national average and are on the rise. Annual health insurance premiums paid by Texas employees (not including employer contributions) is among the highest in the nation at $4892, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. Meanwhile, per patient Medicare spending in Texas has risen at a rate that is nearly double the national average.
  • Quality of Care. A 2012 federal review of all 50 states finds that Texas ranks dead last in the quality of health care. Texas failed to achieve the highest ranking in any of the dozen separate categories measured by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality. More than a quarter of Texas nursing homes have been given the worst rating by federal regulators.

Politicians like Rick Perry and their insurance lobbyist buddies have traded meaningful public accountability for immunity, leaving untold numbers of Texas families to bear the financial, physical, and emotional costs of needless medical harm. They want voters to believe that taking away the legal rights of patients has been good medicine for our state. But, the facts don’t lie.

For a thorough review of HB 4’s impact on Texas families, read Ten Years Later: How House Bill 4 Has Harmed Texans, a report by the Texas Watch Foundation.

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