Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Perry: Texas is Improving Access to Health Care in the Valley

Ceremonially signs SB 98 creating health science center, medical school
Tuesday, September 01, 2009  •  Press Release

HARLINGEN – Gov. Rick Perry today applauded the increase in access to health care for Texans in the Rio Grande Valley thanks to tort reform and the establishment of a medical education facility in the region. The governor ceremonially signed Senate Bill 98, which establishes a health science center and medical school in South Texas.

“We are here today to build on the success of our tort reform efforts and continue increasing the quantity and quality of medical care here in the Valley,” Gov. Perry said. “Senate Bill 98 is vitally important in an area that has been dealing with a shortfall of caregivers for far too long, and will help increase the flow of doctors into the Valley.”

SB 98 allows the University of Texas System to convert the Lower Rio Grande Valley Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) into the University of Texas Health Science Center – South Texas, with the main campus in Cameron County.

“I thank Gov. Perry for signing Senate Bill 98, a medical milestone for the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas. The efforts of hundreds through the years, ranging from the Valley delegation to the medical and business communities, have paid off,” Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. said. “I salute the governor for joining us in making the Valley the next site for a medical school that will bring our area long-awaited higher education opportunities in health care and curb our extreme physician shortages.”

SB 98 will help address the doctor-patient ratio in South Texas, which averages 57 physicians per 100,000 people, compared to the statewide average of 157 and national average of 220 physicians per 100,000 people. The law will also help increase the number of Hispanic graduates of Texas medical schools.

The RAHC was authorized by the Legislature in 1997, and has three major divisions: medical education in Harlingen and medical research in Edinburg, which are overseen by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), and public health in Brownsville, overseen by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Third and fourth-year medical students from UTHSCSA complete rotations at the RAHC facility in Harlingen, which also houses an internal medicine residency program.

In Their Words »
Dr. Leonel Vela
Regional Dean, UT Health Science Center
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