UTMB's History of Care for the Indigent

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Title: UTMB's History of Care for the Indigent
Author: Joanna Charles Bremer
Abstract: Today , 24 .1 percent of Texas inhabitants have no health insurance , by choice or happenstance ; medical inflation is approximately 6 percent annually ; and federal support for indigent health care is eroding in the face of a war in the Middle East . With the 2008 race for the presidency of the United States in full swing , however , candidates increasingly are focusing on providing some kind of health care coverage for the 15 .6 percent of U .S . citizens who live––and die––without it . Thus , with this national focus , one can see that the crisis of finding ways to pay for treating unsponsored patients is not unique to Texas nor to UTMB . \r \nNor is this issue new to the contemporary era . Even before Texas voters in 1881 selected Galveston as the location for the Medical Department of the University of Texas , the island city was the home of the Texas Medical College and Hospital , founded with the notion that serving paupers was part of its mission . When the medical department opened ten years later , that mission transferred to the new institution , known today as the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB ) . Ever since , it has been considered the charity care provider for the state , as the home of the John Sealy Hospital , the only full -service hospital owned by the State of Texas . The state , however , viewed care of paupers (including maintaining their health ) as a local prerogative , and delegated that responsibility to the counties without providing an enforcement mechanism , nor requiring any financial allocation toward that end . \r \nThis paper will review the history of UTMB vis a vis its mission of providing health care for indigents and uninsured ; examine the role of the State Legislature in helping or hindering UTMB in caring for patients who cannot pay for their treatment ; discuss measures enacted by other states that are models for pilot programs the state hopes will recover or reduce uncompensated health care costs ; and propose some solutions currently being undertaken or that UTMB may consider to address the problems . \r \n
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 .3 /34
Date: 2008-02-24

Citation

UTMB's History of Care for the Indigent. The University of Texas Medical Branch. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 .3 /34 .

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