HealthAccessForTexas.Org Launches to Draw Attention to Health Care Bill in Texas Legislature

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Web Site Supports HB 1876, Spotlights Shortage of Health Care Providers in Texas

Under these circumstances, health care access delayed means health care access that is denied which impacts costs for everyone. House Bill 1876 makes sense if we are to meet the future needs of our state while working to keep costs and the taxes associated with healthcare in check.

The Texas Association of Community Health Centers (TACHC) today announced the launch of HealthAccessForTexas.Org, a web site in support of House Bill 1876 in the Texas Legislature.

http://healthaccessfortexas.org/

Sponsored by Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) and Rep. Richard Raymond (D-Laredo), HB 1876 takes a critical step toward addressing the growing shortage of family health care providers statewide. More than half of Texas counties currently need additional primary care physicians.

"Across our state, many Texans seeking basic healthcare are forced to travel great distances, turn to highly expensive emergency room care, or simply go without care," said TACHC Executive Director José E. Camacho. "Under these circumstances, health care access delayed means health care access that is denied which impacts costs for everyone. House Bill 1876 makes sense if we are to meet the future needs of our state while working to keep costs and the taxes associated with healthcare in check."

HB 1876 would establish the Texas Health Care Access Fund. For family care physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, psychologists and other selected primary care professionals locating in areas of great need, the Fund would be available to assist in paying off student loans amassed during medical school training.

Camacho noted that that the average medical school graduate carries a debt of up to $160,000 in student loans. The Health Care Access Fund would provide an incentive to new health professionals to locate in critical shortage areas throughout Texas.

More than half of Texas counties are in need of more primary care physicians. In 2008, 26 Texas counties had no primary care physician. More than 110 Texas counties - rural and urban - have been designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas, meaning those counties do not meet the national threshold of one physician for every 3,500 people.

In addition to providing incentives for health care providers, the Texas Health Care Access Fund would also provide support for federally-qualified health centers across Texas. Such support would be critical as new health providers and services are established in shortage areas. Funding for HB 1876 would come from a restructuring of the tobacco tax, specifically closing a current loophole on smokeless tobacco products.

For more information on House Bill 1876 and the Texas Health Care Access Fund, visit

http://healthaccessfortexas.org/

The website includes additional information on the family care provider shortage in Texas and how HB 1876 will help address the crisis. HealthAccessForTexas.org also features the latest news concerning the Legislation, as well as video and audio interviews with health providers, patients and clinic administrators impacted by the crisis.

About the TACHC
The Texas Association of Community Health Centers is a private, non-profit membership association that represents safety-net health care providers in Texas. Association members include Community and Migrant Health Centers, Health Care for the Homeless Grantees, Public Housing Primary Care Grantees, Ryan White HIV/AIDS Grantees, Health Center Networks and other providers who strive to meet the health care needs of the uninsured and underserved. TACHC serves as the primary care association for the state of Texas.

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Russ Rhea
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