Jul 12, 2010

Trauma Fund Headed for Crash Landing?

Funding for uncompensated trauma care is under attack in Texas. Some local judges, lawyers, and lawmakers take issue with the controversial Driver Responsibility Program (DRP), which raises about $200 million every biennium for uncompensated trauma care. The program levies surcharges on people for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), driving without insurance, driving without a license, and other violations. Opponents argue the DRP clogs state courts and increases the dismissal rate for DWI cases. And it doesn't help that Texas is facing a potential $11 billion to $18 billion budget deficit next year.

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Supporters -- including trauma physicians and nurses, Emergency Medical Services officials, hospital administrators, trauma survivors, and others -- stress that the DRP allows trauma centers to improve patient care. They say the funds make it possible for trauma facilities to purchase new, life-saving equipment and stay in business.

This installment of Podcast TMA features commentary from Christopher Ziebell, MD, medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin. The cover story of the July 2010 issue of Texas Medicine makes the case for preserving the DRP and explains how the state allocates program funds.

This installment covers:

  • How DRP funds benefit Texas' trauma centers;
  • Information on additional proposed funding cuts for indigent care in Texas hospitals; and
  • What physicians can do to show support for the DRP.

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