Response to the blame on “Texas budget crunch could delay M.D. program in Fort Worth.”

It is very interesting that the proponents of the MD school at UNTHSC are putting the blame of the state budget shortfall for their shortcomings. It should be noted that the numbers of UNTMD business plan keep changing according to the direction that the wind  blows that day.

For instance,  in August 2010, though, a UNTMD business and academic plan (page14) said that an analysis by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce“estimated the economic impact of the medical education aspect of the proposed MD program at $1.7 billion over the first 10 years.” Six months later, without any drastic improvement in the economy nor inflation, the local economic impact by the proposed MD school is estimated to  “generate $220.5 million in direct spending in the region in its first 10 years,”i.e, $50 million per year more than the August number. This is very puzzling that an MD school still on the paper only can have such a huge impact on the local economy, a 38% increase in the projected impact in less than 6 months. Maybe the longer the plan sits  and the more impact it will have. The MD program’s supporters owe Fort Worth residents a clear explanation of how these figures were calculated and what each figure represents.

Maybe the crunch of the UNTMD budget is the blame for the delay of the MD school as it is planning to build a new medical school at one fifth of the usual cost. UNTMD supporters claim that the MD program would be cost-free to the state of Texas for the first 5 years (2011-16).  Even if the school were built and equipped exclusively through philanthropic contributions—and that is highly doubtful—the cost alone of educating the students from 2013-2016 amounts to $30 million, as it plans on admitting the first class of 100 students starting in 2013. In addition, an independent report from JM Watt Consulting, released in February 2011, notes that the UNTMD plan projects that “during the MD school’s first eight years, the program would cost the state $105.8 million.” Costs, as well as potential benefits, should be part of the UNTMD equation.

Where would these funds come from? 

The origins , development and the unbelievable estimates put forth in UNTMD business plan are the roots of any delay for the MD school to start. The MD study group was set up at the end of 2008. Its mission was supposed to be to study the feasibility and the merits of another medical school in Ft. Worth. However, the push for another medical school and its outcome was already decided in 2006 after Dr. Ransom was hired to assume the presidency of UNTHSC.

  • The study was initially conducted by PriceWaterhouse-Coopers (PW-C), which has served as consultants for several new medical schools across the nation.  The start-up costs for those schools totaled at least $100 million. PW-C was reluctant to sign off on the low- cost estimates in the UNTMD business plan. The business plan was then sent to another consulting firm, Deloitte – Touche, which signed off on the plan’s numbers only with the assumption that the facts provided by UNTHSC stand correct.
  • The low-cost estimates and low fundraising from an ill-conceived plan are culprits.

If some hospitals and segments of the community still want an MD program,  the plan’s supporters should develop a fundraising plan that meets the project’s true costs as realistic as in other communities, which have contributed to the development of recent DO and MD schools.

Star Telegram: Texas budget crunch could delay M.D. program in Fort Worth

A proposal to add an M.D. program to the medical school in Fort Worth could be delayed because of state budget woes, lawmakers and local officials said Thursday.

The possible setback for the M.D. school — which would be at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth — was just part of the grim news that confronted scores of Tarrant County officials as they spread out in the state Capitol to lobby for local priorities.

Nearly 300 Tarrant County visitors, representing city and county governments and dozens of business organizations, were in Austin for Tarrant County Day. A resolution in the House of Representatives — the Senate wasn’t in session — paid tribute to the state’s third-largest county and its economic contributions.

Rep. Todd Smith. R-Euless, chairman of the county’s 10-member delegation, gave the visitors a sobering assessment of the state’s budget picture as they gathered at an early breakfast before beginning a day of lobbying.

“It’s quite simply the most challenging legislative [session] we’ve had,” Smith said. “It’s not all bad news, but it’s mostly bad news.”

Draft budgets in the House and Senate are proposing up to $31.1 billion in cuts, threatening thousands of layoffs and service reductions in nearly every category of government.

Scott Ransom, president of the health science center, acknowledged that the budget crunch could force the university to delay seeking legislative authorization for the M.D. program. The center is working with members of the Tarrant County delegation and will accept whichever course the lawmakers recommend, Ransom said.

“The Tarrant County delegation is trying to determine if this is the right session to do it,” Ransom said. Asked whether the M.D. request will move forward this year, Ransom said, “We’re not sure.”

The health science center has four schools, including the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Center officials have raised $25 million in private donations to start the M.D. school, but legislative approval is needed since it would eventually rely on state funding.

“Anybody who is seeking additional state funding has a reason to be concerned in this particular environment,” Smith said.

The M.D. school would be the ninth in Texas and the first in Fort Worth. It would add 100 students annually until reaching full enrollment of 400 and could educate nearly 1,000 physicians by 2025, according to an economic analysis prepared for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.

The study said the school would generate $220.5 million in direct spending in the region in its first 10 years and would make Fort Worth a destination for the healthcare industry, attracting medical spinoff companies and research firms. The school would also generate $4.7 million in taxes for local governments during the 10 years, the analysis said.

The Fort Worth government has designated the school a top legislative priority. “It’ll be a big loss” if the school is delayed, Councilman Jungus Jordan said. “But we’ll keep fighting until we get it.”

Read more:

This entry was posted in Medical education, UNTHSC. Bookmark the permalink.