PoltiFact: Perry's tort reform claims are 'false'

The website PolitiFact.com on Friday threw some cold water on Texas Gov. Rick Perry's claims about tort reform in his state — claims tort-reform supporters often tout as a model for other states.

Perry has said on the campaign trail that Texas gained 21,000 new doctors because of malpractice reforms in his state. PolitiFact said that claim is "false."

Doctors and other supporters of state laws that cap jury awards in medical malpractice cases often argue that the high cost of malpractice suits keeps some doctors away. Reducing the cost of lawsuits — which in turn cuts the cost of malpractice insurance — makes it easier for doctors to open up shop, they argue.

But PolitiFact said that theory doesn't hold up under a close analysis of the actual results in Texas.

The site found that in the years since Texas's tort reform law passed, the number of doctors in the state has risen only slightly more than the overall population. The state's population has grown by 20 percent since 2003, and the number of doctors has increased by 24 percent.

Texas also was adding new doctors at a good clip before tort reform became law. Texas added doctors at twice the rate of its population growth in the nine years before the law passed, according to PolitiFact. The site partially credits the state's attractive climate for doctors, as well as rules that require insurance companies to make payments quickly.