May 3, 2012
A few minutes ago, the Board of Regents for the University of Texas System voted to commit tens of millions of dollars a year to a medical school in Austin. That means we’re close – closer than we’ve ever been – to delivering this community a medical school and the wealth of health care and economic resources that come with it.
So today’s a big day in the history of Austin and Central Texas. It shows that our new playbook – one that relies on innovative public-private partnerships, the coordination of resources, and a ton of creativity and hard work – is working.
Really, this whole effort has been about building a bridge to a modern health care system and economy. And this Board of Regents vote – along with announcements last week of plans for a state-of-the-art teaching hospital and a new agreement transforming the way health care is delivered in this community – puts us most of the way toward completing that bridge.
It’s up to us to finish the job – because, as you know, an unfinished bridge leads nowhere. We’ll be talking more in the coming weeks about the next, last steps toward completing this transformative work for our health, our families and our economy.
When we’re finished, it will mean not just a medical school and teaching hospital, but also:
Finally, you’ll find below a memo I’ve sent to the Organizing Committee that I put together to help work on the 10-in-10 Goals. It describes in more detail what happened today and what it means.
As I say there, thanks to the help, work and dedication of this community, I’m as confident as I’ve ever been that we’re going to succeed.
Dear Organizing Committee members,
Today, the University of Texas System Board of Regents passed a resolution committing tens of millions of additional dollars – every year – to support the launch, operation and staffing of a medical school in Austin. The resolution dedicates $30 million annually through the start up years, with a continued yearly commitment of $25 million beyond.
This is an exciting, extraordinary vote that will help define Austin as a center for 21st Century health care excellence. It’s a huge step toward completing the bridge we’ve been building to a healthier, more prosperous future. And it’s a definitive statement that the University of Texas System is dedicated not only to a medical school in Austin, but also to the unique new community partnership we’ve launched to make it happen.
As you know, this vote comes less than two weeks after the Seton Healthcare Family preliminarily committed up to $250 million toward the construction of a modern teaching hospital that will replace University Medical Center Brackenridge.
It also comes on the heels of a Letter of Intent between Central Health (the Travis County health care district) and Seton to modernize and upgrade the community’s long-time public/private partnership serving our safety net population. This historic agreement, when complete, should ensure that more people have greater access to better health care, and it may allow the community to better take advantage of tens of millions of federal dollars under the 1115 Medicaid Waiver.
Together, these developments:
The Regents’ decision is contingent on a match of $35 million per year, on average, from other partners or sources. We can think of this new commitment of money as part of a larger and beneficial matching fund, because the investment of $35 million will draw down hundreds of millions of dollars in resources from the UT System, its institutions, Seton and other sources that have been identified to fund the medical school.
It will also create massive economic benefits across the region, be the cornerstone of a new economy and quality of life in Austin, and meet many of the goals embodied in the 10 in 10.
And, frankly, the opportunity costs of failure are imposing. If we don’t make this investment, we’ll lose the health and economic benefits that are now within our reach and end up with the same unmet needs that this community already knows too well.
(Similarly, the Board of Regents today laudably resolved to support funding of an equally badly needed medical school in South Texas. The support is contingent on that region continuing to make progress on medical residency slots and revenue streams to help fund the school. Again, this demonstrates the new playbook – one that relies in part on locally organized public/private partnerships – for creating medical schools in Texas.)
This local funding can take a number of forms – including philanthropy, taxes and assessments – and we’ll be working over the coming weeks to flesh out how that participation should look and what proportion of it should be borne by different interests.
But we now see what we’ve always known: by using a new model of community collaboration and leveraging some of our extraordinary resources to attract funds from a multitude of sources, we can achieve our very big goals and complete a bridge to a medical school and modern health care system.
More than that, with this latest commitment, we now have the resources to build most of that bridge.
It’s up to us, as members of this committee and citizens of this community, to maintain the momentum, continue the really good work that’s been done and close the remaining gap.
If we do that, we’ll create transformative change – both in the economic health of this region, and in the physical and mental health of people in every part this community.
We’ll connect medical students and researchers with work that’s already going on at the University of Texas, and we’ll direct those discoveries toward patients at a new, state-of-the-art hospital who need them.
We’ll ensure that Central Texans get the treatment they require right here at home, alleviating the need to travel to Dallas, Houston or far-off cities that already experience the benefits of medical education.
We’ll train the doctors we know we need to care for a growing population, and we’ll keep them in the region – just as other communities with medical schools and teaching hospitals have.
And, acting in unity and shared vision, we’ll create 15,000 permanent jobs and close to $2 billion in economic activity; expand access and options for treating the uninsured; and provide new therapies designed to improve the health of everyone in this region.
I want to thank Chairman Powell, the Board of Regents, Chancellor Cigarroa, Executive Vice Chancellor Shine, Vice Chancellor and Counsel Shaw-Thomas, Dean Cox, President Powers, Vice President & Provost Leslie, and many others at the University of Texas System, UT Southwestern Medical Center and UT Austin for their hard work, creativity and dedication to their institutions and to this community. They have done an enormous amount of work, and made an equally large commitment, to help us get where we want to go.
Now, we have to finish the job. We’re close, and we’re succeeding. Thanks to the help, work and dedication of this committee and people across this community, I’m as confident as I’ve ever been that we will.