Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Ibn Sina Clinic Anniversary Celebration

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Thursday, March 27, 2008  •  Speech

Thank you, MJ (Khan, Houston city council member) for that kind introduction. You continue to be a voice for positive change in our state’s largest city and we thank you for that. Mr. Rupani, congratulations to you for the impact of your personal investment in this community. I also want to recognize the members of the Ibn Sina Foundation Board and everyone else who has given so much of themselves to this worthwhile cause.

I want to thank all of you for being here today to celebrate a birthday. And I prefer the term birthday to anniversary because the latter is simply the recollection of a past event. Birthday is a much more appropriate description of our purpose today because a birthday is a celebration of a life in progress. This facility is beautiful, but this place is more than just a building. The people who work here are committed professionals, but this place is more than just an organization. Instead, this place is a living thing that first drew breath one year ago. It is alive with caring people, satisfied patients and neighbors who realize what human kindness looks like. This place brings life to the community that it serves, improving the health and well-being of people whose only healthcare option before was waiting for a tragedy that would justify a visit to the emergency room. That approach is no basis for a healthcare system, but, too often in our state and in our country, it is the only way that people of limited means can access healthcare for themselves and their families.

It is one of those uniquely American dichotomies to state that our country offers just about the best healthcare anywhere in the world yet our system is broken. Under the increasing weight of government regulation, healthcare providers find themselves at cross purposes with insurance companies and governmental entities as they work to provide the best care possible with continually shrinking reimbursements. Because government interference has limited the influence of genuine competition, we have a system that is sluggish and unresponsive.

Fortunately, during last year’s session, the legislature responded favorably to my efforts to reform our healthcare system through our “Healthier Texas” initiative. They passed legislation that has allowed us to begin moving in the right direction. For example, they approved a program to offer assistance on insurance premium payments for the uninsured working poor. It is an attempt to do away with the one-size-fits-all approach of Medicaid coverage, giving people choices on their plans through employer-sponsored insurance coverage. Beyond the insurance issue, it is essential to move our healthcare system away from a hospital-centric approach and place a greater emphasis on preventive care.

Our hospitals provide the best care for critical problems, but having overcrowded emergency rooms treating people with everyday health issues isn’t the best way to administer health care. That emphasis on preventive care is embodied in this medical center. Here, people of limited means are able to get care long before their situation is critical, reducing the cost of care and improving their quality of life. That is possible because the Houston philanthropic community was alerted to this opportunity by an inspirational group of people who have devoted themselves to this project. It is possible because compassionate doctors and dentists are volunteering their time and skills to care for the people here. It is possible because you did not sit and wait for the government to come in and fix the problem. Instead, you considered the needs of your fellow human beings and took steps to meet them. You took it upon yourself to understand the available resources and connected them to your patients. You have leveraged technology to improve efficiencies and cut costs. You have turned heartfelt compassion into state-of-the-art care and improved tens of thousands of lives in this past year.

Efforts like yours exemplify the best of the human spirit and prove to us once again that government is best occupied with supporting local initiatives, not curtailing those efforts with endless regulations. To all of you, I thank you for all you have done. I congratulate you on your success. And I wish a happy birthday to this wonderful, lively place, with hopes for countless more birthdays to come. And I wish you the best in the years that follow as you continue to set an example that all the cities in our state and all the states in our nation would be well advised to follow.

Thank you, may God bless you and may he continue to bless the Great state of Texas.

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