Yes on Travis County's Proposition 1!
The battle over Travis County’s Proposition 1, which would help to support a new medical center in Austin, has become fierce. Here, we lay out why voting yes for Proposition 1 is a good thing for Austin and Texas.
First of all, Proposition 1 does not go towards building the medical school at UT. The UT Board of Regents has already committed $25 million a year for any actual construction and another $5 million a year for eight years to purchase equipment. The Seton Healthcare Family is providing $250 million to pay for the teaching hospital. The funds raised through the approval of Proposition 1 would go towards paying for medical services provided by the hospital, medical center, and community clinics in order to support nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals.
With this in mind, let’s look next at the many benefits that a UT Medical School would bring to Austin and Central Texas:
- Improved and increased healthcare: The medical school would bring more doctors and nurses to Travis County. Studies have shown that 80% of medical students who do their training in Texas stay here. This would also provide an opportunity to open more community clinics, reaching out to the many underserved and uninsured in Travis County (60% of which do have jobs that either do not provide insurance or it is unaffordable). With more uninsured individuals receiving preventative care, Travis County could avoid the costs associated with unnecessary trips to the emergency room, while improving and saving lives.
- Why do we need improved and increased healthcare? Right now, Central Texas is short more than 700 doctors and as the population continues to grow--and quickly! -so does the doctor shortage. The senior population, including people 65 years and older, is one of the highest growing demographics as more and more people come to retire in Central Texas. This population needs medical care much more often on average than the younger population. If we do not do something to provide for the uninsured and the senior population, then we harm everyone.
- Job creation and economic growth: It is predicted that a medical school at UT would create 15,000 permanent jobs. It would also generate $2 billion in economic activity, every year. A medical school would provide connections to the private sector through research opportunities, especially in the areas of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. Investing in such a boost to the job market and community is a smart move, especially one that also provides the healthcare benefits above.
With all of these amazing benefits, who could be against a UT Medical School? As in many other cases, it comes down to money. In order to fund Proposition 1, our health care tax would raise by a nickel per $100 property valuation. This would be about $100 a year for a home that is valued at $200,000, and would be less than $9 a month for the average Travis County property owner. In comparison to other large hospital districts, Travis County currently pays $71 a year to their hospital district, while Dallas County pays an average of $172 a person and Bexar County pays $162 a person. In order to keep up with the actuality of healthcare costs and needs, the kind of tax increase that Proposition 1 is proposing is both reasonable and necessary.
With endorsements by multiple community leaders from both sides of the political fence, including State Senator Kirk Watson, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, over 400 physicians, the Austin Chronicle and the Austin American Statesman, Proposition 1 is clearly the right choice for Austin and Travis County.
Please consider the above points and vote yes on Proposition 1! For more information see: TXEXPlainer: Is Prop 1 a Good Deal for Austin? Yes and the HealthyATX website.