Texas Healthcare at the Bottom – the Irony

If you live in a “Red” state, it is likely that your state government has been cutting services. Texas is a model of such policy, ranking at the bottom of healthcare in the US according to federal agencies. http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20120705-federal-agency-ranks-texas-at-bottom-for-health-care.ece

The results of conservatives slowly starving governments at all levels are the continued erosion of vital infrastructure and social services. Just how bad is Texas? Texas is the worst place in a country that the WHO ranks 37th  in overall national health (America’s current ranking). This is a crime in progress.

The irony of this cannot escape me. Texas hospital systems provide some of the best cardiovascular surgical services in the world. In the days when I went to medical school, their University System was one of the best and attracted top tier physicians along with patients seeking their care. And like many western states, tuition was dirt cheap, bordering on free at state universities. In Arizona (yes, that Arizona) residents of the state gained easy acceptance to state universities and if they had the need and maintained high GPA’s, tuition was waved under a general resident scholarship program. Being broke and otherwise without support, I qualified and owe my current life to that program.

In Texas, and other states, such investments in education and state talent bred a great system. The remnants of those investments now stand as islands in a rising sea. Still providing the best, but being starved of the resources on which they once depended. Priorities have changed, sacrifices must be made, and resources rationed (oh that “R” word). What stays is high dollar paying services like open heart surgery, and what goes is charity care, ancillary services, community programs, long term health investments, and then actual hospital clinical staff as ratio’s of patients to nurses in hospitals and nursing homes rise.

What is missing is the previous generous federal grant programs that paid for top tier professors to engage in basic sciences research in aerospace, medicine and other technology. The states themselves are broke and are unable to provide the subsidies they once did, let alone make up the missing federal money.

 

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