Leave the Taxpayer Out of the Equation

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 18, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Re: “The Med School Solution” [News, Sept. 14]: In a short course of time, the voters will be asked to make educated decisions based upon limited information that has been supplied by Sen. Kirk Watson, Seton, University of Texas, and the Central Health district. I can understand their desire to move quickly because of the monies that would be received from the Medicaid 1115 waiver program. But an emergency on their part to get this property tax passed does not constitute an emergency on the taxpayer’s part. Open public discussion, criticisms, and vetting of the issues are paramount to good public decision making, especially in times of fiscal restraint.
    A recent article by Laura Pressley, Ph.D., which came out in the Austin American-Statesman, stated, “there are more cost effective methods for delivering health care, and those solutions don’t require building a medical school and a new hospital.” Which brings up the point again that needs to be explored, is a new city hospital needed or a new medical school, or both? Or does Austin need more health care providers at the clinics to serve the poor and uninsured? Any consideration given to expanding allied health providers (nurses, dietitians, social workers, exercise trainers) working collaboratively with clinic physicians? Isn’t the crux of the issue to serve the poor and uninsured?
    The Central Health Board did a disservice by not having open meetings. Ms. Patricia Young Brown was quoted that taxpayers need not be privy to their negotiations. I would argue that transparency is essential to the people who will have to foot the bill. I understand that they are serving the poor and uninsured but this approach was wrongheaded especially considering Austin’s educated public.
    I support a new medical school here in Austin. It will create jobs and bring in smart people. We already have a nursing school and a law school. But the difference is that they were not constructed with a $50 million taxpayer subsidy. Leave the taxpayer out of the equation and build it. Will it solve the health issues of the poor and uninsured? Look to other cities that have medical schools and see if there is still a problem. Let’s see the studies that support it. Austin is becoming unaffordable even by the admission of the Austin American-Statesman. Our Legislature needs to take note or they might face a Proposition 13 in the near future.
Paul J. Violand, CRNA, MS
Certified registered nurse anesthetist
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