A proposed agreement between public and private entities involved in Austin’s new medical school provides the first details of how $35 million a year in voter-approved funds will be spent.
It says that the medical school, as a key partner in transforming health care delivery in Travis County, can use the money to hire faculty, train new doctors and support researchers, among other things.
A nonprofit created by Central Health and the Seton Healthcare Family called the Community Care Collaborative will make the payments, in perpetuity. The University of Texas medical school, in turn, will provide resources to create a better coordinated system of patient care for Travis County residents, officials said.
Central Health officials have long said the $35 million would be used to purchase health care services from medical school faculty and residents (doctors-in-training). This plan matches that intent, they said.
“I think this is an important step in doing what we told voters we were going to do with their money,” Central Health board member Clarke Heidrick said.
UT-Austin will use the money to help fund department chairpersons, health care workers, support staffers, instructional costs and other elements of what will be a patient-focused educational and clinical program, said Steven Leslie, UT executive vice president and provost. “The intent is to use the $35 million to help deliver world-class patient care,” he said.
In 10 years or so, the medical school’s annual budget could reach $500 million or more, Leslie said. That includes the $35 million as well as Seton’s spending on training doctors, construction debt payments by the UT System and patient care revenue.
Although the Central Health board approved a memorandum of understanding on the medical school Wednesday, it will be several months before UT, Seton, Central Health and the nonprofit Community Care Collaborative have binding agreements.
Central Health has spent months working out the flow of funds, a task complicated by its plans to seek federal matching money to support the school and more than $100 million in health care improvement projects.
The 5-cent tax rate increase that voters approved in November will generate $59.6 million in new revenue, up from $54 million projected more than a year ago. Central Health will use $44.4 million of that to seek a federal match of $64.7 million, producing $109.1 million for the health care projects.
The collaborative is performing 14 projects that include creating a disease management registry and telepsychiatry at community clinics, for which it will receive $59.5 million in the 2014 fiscal year, starting Oct. 1. Seton’s share is $49.6 million for 16 projects that University Medical Center Brackenridge and Dell Children’s Medical Center will perform. They include new psychiatric emergency services and a child obesity prevention program.
The Central Health board on Wednesday also approved a preliminary $173 million budget and voted to reduce its reserve funds from 33 percent of spending to 15 percent.
Public hearings on the budget will be at 6 p.m. Aug. 29 and 5:30 p.m. Sept. 4 at the Central Health headquarters, 1111 E. Cesar Chavez St.