Driver Responsibility Program Supports Texas’ Trauma System

Testimony by Christopher Ziebell, MD

Senate Committee on Transportation
Senate Bill 266

April 5, 2017

Chairman Nichols and members of the committee, my name is Dr. Christopher Ziebell, and I am an emergency physician practicing in Austin. On behalf of the Texas Medical Association, thank you for the opportunity to provide input on Senate Bill 266.

As you are aware, the Driver Responsibility Program (DRP) was established to help support and fund the Texas trauma system. The program targets repeat offenders and unsafe drivers and penalizes those bad drivers with surcharges. These surcharges go into Account 5111, the Designated Trauma Facility and Emergency Medical Services Account, and the general revenue account. The funds derived from the surcharges are then used to offset the cost of uncompensated trauma care. The nearly 300 trauma-designated hospitals in the state rely on funds from DRP to offset the cost of more than $300 million in uncompensated trauma care each year. DRP is the leading source of state funding for the Texas trauma system, contributing $75 million-$80 million per year. To maintain Texas’ low trauma mortality rate, trauma funding must be preserved.

The program not only helps offset uncompensated care but also provides a financial incentive for more hospitals to earn or maintain their trauma center designation. It has encouraged many smaller and rural hospitals to achieve Level III or Level IV trauma designation, ensuring trauma care access to citizens all across the state.

However, the Driver Responsibility Program is not without its flaws. We are fully aware that the current structure of the program has the potential to cause hardship for low-income drivers who have accrued penalties. We sympathize with those who have lost their driver’s license because of an inability to pay DRP fees and who are then limited in their employment opportunities because of their lack of driver’s license. That is why we applaud Senator Watson’s proposed bill that would ease the financial burden on low-income drivers who have accrued surcharges but maintains trauma funding at nearly comparable levels. 

We strongly support the preservation of the Driver Responsibility Program and applaud this bill’s efforts to maintain funding for the trauma system while easing the financial burden on Texas drivers who have accrued surcharges. The funds from the Driver Responsibility Program help ensure that a strong trauma system exists in the state. Thank you for the opportunity to comment today, and I am happy to answer questions at this time.  

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Last Updated On

April 07, 2017

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