TMA Testimony by Curtis Mirkes, DO
Senate Finance Committee, Article III
Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015
Madam Chair and committee members, my name is Curtis Mirkes, DO. I practice in the combined specialty of internal medicine and pediatrics; I work as a hospitalist in Temple. Today, I am representing the 48,000 members of the Texas Medical Association.
The Higher Education Coordinating Board, as you know, is the single state agency with the largest role in overseeing medical education and graduate medical education in our state and I will be directing my remarks to that agency’s budget.
Our members are concerned about the ability for physicians to train in our state.
The GME expansion grant programs are important steps to addressing this concern. We continue to have a serious physician shortage. As you know, those shortages touch the majority of specialties and they impede access to care. The new expansion grant programs authorized by the last legislature are a big step toward expanding our GME capacity and we are grateful for the commitment you and our other legislative members made toward building our physician workforce. Having the additional $14.25 million is good for the state and these programs have several important distinctions. The $65,000 per-resident amount authorized for these programs is significant. These programs also acknowledge the partnership between medical schools and teaching hospitals in training a resident.
We have all learned through the roll-out of the new programs. We would be supportive of an evaluation to determine where improvements could be made. We would encourage simplification. With so many new programs, there has been some confusion. We would support tying the funding to the state’s most acute workforce needs.
Madam chair and committee members, we would like to express our gratitude to you for the proposed funding for GME in SB2. We strongly support the $60 million for expansions to reach the target 1.1 ratio of entry-level positions per medical school graduate. This would make a significant difference in addressing the GME bottleneck, that - if left alone - will grow even tighter and shut out our graduates.
We hope there will be an opportunity to increase funding for the family medicine residency program and to restore funding for the primary care preceptorship programs in order to catch-up with the state’s needs for primary health care. There is also a critical need to address our serious shortage of psychiatrists and child psychiatrists. Additional funding for GME formula dollars is also important.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today.
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