Senate Finance Committee Examines Trauma Funding Needs
On January 30, the Texas Senate Committee on Finance took up a charge to review revenue sources currently funding the state's trauma system and the impact of declining revenues and balances in General Revenue – Dedicated accounts. In addition, they are evaluating the impact of statutory changes affecting trauma system funding, including efforts to eliminate the Driver Responsibility Program. They are also charged with examining ways to ensure sustainability of the trauma system in Texas. The full agenda is available online.
The committee heard testimony from the Department of State Health Services, the Legislative Budget Board, The Texas Hospital Association, David Persse, MD, of the City of Houston/SETRAC and Eric Epley, CEM, TETAF Board Member and STRAC Executive Director.
Dr. Persse and Mr. Epley both drew attention to the depleted Permanent Tobacco Fund for EMS and Trauma Care and the dire impact on RAC funding. Although appropriators indicated level funding would be allocated to the RACs this year, actual distributions through The Department of State Health Services have declined dramatically. Previously, approximately $2.4 million was divided between these 22 entities annually. However, for fiscal year 2018, those distributions have declined by more than 25%, a significant $640,000. Even more alarming, DSHS has indicated that there may be no funding for the RACs from this account, or general revenue, for FY 2019.
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Dr. Persse's testimony can be viewed online at the 4:28:00 mark, followed immediately by Mr. Epley's testimony.