Capitol Update: 83rd Texas Legislature convenes
Dr. Fiesinger served as
Physician of the Day Jan. 8
And they’re off. The first week of the new 140-day legislative session is over, but the work has hardly begun. Fewer than 700 bills have been filed so far, while the total number of bills filed last session was 5,796. The deadline for filing most bills is
The state comptroller Susan Combs reported this week lawmakers should have $101.4 billion available in the general fund to craft the budget for the next two years, and $11.8 billion in the Rainy Day Fund. That’s quite a different story from the predicted shortfall the legislature faced two years ago, and as it turns out, that shortfall never really occurred. According to Combs, the general fund has $8.8 billion left over from the current biennium.
For some perspective on the comptroller’s report, check out this Jan. 7 article in the Texas Tribune.
TAFP’s Legislative Priorities: Graduate medical education
Last session, the Legislature cut the state’s investment in graduate medical education by about 40 percent. The most drastic cuts were reserved for a set of programs administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board specifically designed to support the recruitment and residency training of family physicians and other primary care physicians, and to encourage them to practice in underserved communities throughout the state. The Legislature cut the line item supporting family medicine residency programs by almost 75 percent. Two other line items for residency training were eliminated, as was all funding for Texas’ Statewide Primary Care Preceptorship Program.
The state’s Physician Education Loan Repayment Program was cut from $23.2 million in 2010-2011 to $5.6 million in 2012-2013. According to analysis by the Texas Primary Care Office at the Department of State Health Services, this reduction could affect health care access for 1.1 million Texans in underserved areas. Altogether, the budget decisions for these programs constitute a withdrawal of $39.8 million, or 80 percent, in the state’s investment in the production of its primary care workforce.
Restoration of these cuts is at the top of TAFP’s legislative priorities for the session. For more on your Academy’s legislative priorities, read “Primary care in Texas: Condition critical” and “The right kind of doctors for Texas: Revisiting barriers to building the primary care workforce, 20 years later.”
Serve as Physician of the Day
Thanks to the physicians who volunteered for the Physician of the Day program this week: TAFP President Troy Fiesinger, M.D., of Sugar Land; T. David Greer, M.D., of Henrietta, and Larry Kravitz, M.D., of Austin with UT Southwestern third-year student Fatima Wazni.
The Physician of the Day program brings a family physician to the Capitol each day of the legislative session to provide health care to members of the Capitol community. Dates are still available throughout the session. For more information on how to sign up and to view the calendar of open dates, go to the Physician of the Day page of the TAFP website, www.tafp.org/advocacy/get-involved/physician-of-the-day.