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Gains on Uninsured, Reducing Shortages of Nurses/Physicians, Health Care Funding Among Session's Successes
Date:6/2/2009

tections to preserve the independent medical decision-making of employed physicians, and to ensure that physicians are treated equally in medical staff bylaws and policies, regardless of their employment status," Stultz added.

Rep. Warren Chisum introduced a change to the tax on smokeless tobacco products to fund a physician loan repayment program for those who practice in underserved areas for at least four years. "This legislation will provide some 225 new physicians annually to underserved areas of the state. Of the 114 Texas counties considered Health Professional Shortage Areas, more than 75 percent are in rural areas," Stultz explained.

Health Care Funding

Legislators used federal stimulus dollars to fill the 2009 shortfall in Medicaid, fund increases in Medicaid caseload and cost projections for 2010-11, and support community mental health crisis services to keep patients in crisis out of hospitals and criminal justice system. A total of $109.4 million was appropriated for these mental health facilities.

Lawmakers appropriated $75 million per year from the Designated Trauma and Emergency Medical Services Account to help offset uncompensated trauma care costs at designated trauma hospitals. "This is a significant increase from the $52 million per year appropriated for 2008-09, but all of the dollars accumulating in this account should be used as they were intended. Hospitals reported about $196 million in uncompensated trauma care last year," Stultz said. Several bills were introduced that would have repealed the Driver Responsibility Program, the funding source for the uncompensated trauma care fund. In the end, legislators directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to create an indigency program, waiving fines and surcharges for drivers up to 125 percent of poverty; however, the program does not take effect until Sept. 1, 2011.

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SOURCE Texas Hospital Association
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