TMA Testimony by Cynthia Jumper, MD
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Senate Finance Committee
Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019
Madam Chair and committee members, I’m Dr. Cynthia Jumper, an internal medicine specialist from Lubbock. I am appearing before you today to represent the Texas Medical Association and its nearly 53,000 physician and medical student members.
It is a privilege to come before you – recognizing how important this meeting is – to discuss the state’s funding of higher education for the next two years.
I would like to start by thanking Chairwoman Jane Nelson and each of you for your leadership and your support of medical education and graduate medical education (GME) in recent years and in Senate Bill 1. This is so important for our state.
As you know, people want to live in Texas. When you are No. 1 in the nation in population gains, this presents a challenge for meeting health care needs.
Not long ago, despite all of our efforts, we were losing ground — our population was growing faster than our physician supply. Finally, as a result of your leadership, that has changed. For the past 10 years, the physician workforce has been growing faster than our population.
The work is not done. We’ve moved up in the state rankings but not far enough – Texas ranks 41st in the ratio of physicians per capita. This simply is not good enough for Texas. We need to keep going by expanding GME and recruiting new physicians.
Because of your efforts, Texas has achieved the target ratio of 1.1 residency positions per Texas medical school graduate. As important as that is, we may not be able to hold onto it. Three more medical schools are in development, and when 2,000 medical school graduates begin looking for training positions beginning in 2021, we will need to have 2,000 first-year residency positions ready to keep them in Texas. That means more positions need to be created before 2021.
Another state program also needs attention.
The state’s Physician Education Loan Repayment Program has been greatly successful. Three hundred primary care physicians have been working in our most underserved areas of the state each year as a result of this program. It helps young physicians pay off their medical school loans and gives access to care in areas that otherwise would not have it.
The program took a big hit in the current state budget – and thus has 25 percent less money to work with, a drop of $8.5 million in funding over the biennium. This means a good portion of our state will have to go without a primary care physician who could have been recruited or retained. We know how important access to care is for our residents. Please give attention to the funding of this program for 2020-21.
Thank you for the privilege of being able to speak before you today.
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