Early voting started Monday in Travis County. Central Health Prop 1 will determine the fate of a UT-Austin med school.
Part of the UT M.D. campaign, the video above outlines the case for a UT-Austin medical school. As Central Texans begin to head to the polls, here’s a quick rundown of what Proposition 1 really means.
1. Prop 1 does not build a UT medical school. It is part of a coordinated funding plan to support the school, a teaching hospital, community clinics, and to expand access to health care for the entire region. The UT System Board of Regents has committed at least $25 million per year to build and run the school itself, plus $5 million per year for eight years to purchase equipment, according to the Austin American Statesman. The Seton Healthcare Family has committed $250 million to build the corresponding teaching hospital and replace the outdated University Medical Center Brackenridge. The funding raised by Prop 1 will pay for the medical services provided by the hospital, medical school, and community clinics.
2. Central Texas needs more doctors. 80 percent of doctors who train in Texas stay in Texas. Existing medical facilities in Dallas, Houston, Galveston, and San Antonio guarantee a stream of physicians in those communities. Austin is facing a “silver tsunami” of retirees, who are twice as likely to use medical facilities. Meanwhile, Central Texas is facing a shortage of more than 700 doctors. UT can help fill these gaps with a medical school.
3. A UT-Austin medical school is good for business. A new medical school and teaching hospital not only means expanded access to care, it means greater research opportunities and connections to the private sector. Business leaders note the need for research facilities in areas such as biotech and pharmaceuticals, and some businesses have avoided or left Austin due to a lack of these capabilities. Reports indicate a UT-Austin medical school could create 15,000 jobs and inject $2 billion into the local economy annually.
4. Community leaders support Prop 1. State Sen. Kirk Watson is leading the charge for a UT-Austin med school, but he’s not alone. Community organizations Keep Austin Healthy and HealthyATX have advocated Prop 1, as well as the Texas Exes. The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Austin Travis County EMS Association, Real Estate Council of Austin, former state comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, and various others—including more than 400 physicians—have endorsed the measure. UT-Austin student groups including Student Government, Orange Jackets, the Friar Society, The Texas Cowboys, and the Tejas Club support it, and it has been endorsed by the Daily Texan, Austin Chronicle, and the Austin American Statesman.
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Mitzi Irene Nuhn Dreher:
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