The University of Texas Medical Branch’s president said Thursday that $42.9 million in proposed cuts by the Texas Senate put some of the medical branch’s major mission programs — including a new unit that would be used to treat Ebola patients and the medical programs to care for indigent patients — at major risk.

In its initial budget, introduced earlier this month, the Senate left out appropriations known as “special items” for state colleges and universities. The proposed omissions would cut about $1 billion from the budget.

The medical branch had a budget of about $576 million for the 2016-2017 biennium. Special items made up about $29.3 million, or about 5 percent of that budget.

Faced with an order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to cut 4 percent out of its budget and with decreased revenues statewide, the senate proposed giving $533 million to the medical branch over the next two years, with no funding for special items.

As representatives from the Texas A&M System told senators Wednesday, the removal of special items could kill some programs.

Dr. David Callender, president of the medical branch, told the finance committee the medical branch was poised to lose $14.2 million that is used to fund indigent care at its hospitals.

“Those cuts would have a tremendous impact on our ability to provide care to the indigent patients that come and see us,” Callender said.

“If these cuts stand as proposed, UTMB must significantly reduce care for those vulnerable populations who present with life-threatening illnesses from across the state.”

The medical branch treated 33,600 indigent patients from 124 counties last year, according to prepared remarks provided to The Daily News by the medical branch. The care cost $49.6 million in 2016. Of that, $47.7 million, or 96 percent, of the payments charged went uncollected.

In 2014, in the midst of an outbreak of Ebola in Texas, the medical branch was tasked with creating a bio-containment unit inside its hospital that could be used to treat people infected by highly virulent diseases like Ebola.

The medical branch was to operate one of two such units in the state and received $8.1 million in funding for 2016 and 2017 to establish the unit.

Callender said that the medical branch had completed full design of the project but would need to put construction on hold without special item funding.

“It remains vital to our state’s and our nation’s readiness to respond to Ebola, Zika and similar threats,” Callender said.

The medical branch is also requesting $12 million to create a Center for Excellence in Infectious Disease Research, Treatment and Biosafety. The center would work with Texas A&M to create a Trans-Texas Vaccine Institute, which would research infectious diseases and their treatments, as well as support the training and operations at the Galveston National Laboratory.

The medical branch requested funding for a vaccine institute during past sessions to no avail.

The budget for the next biennium will not be completed for months. The senate has created a working committee to review each of the special item requests.

“There are going to be some decisions made that people aren’t going to like,” said State Sen. Jane Nelson, the chairwoman of the finance committee. “We’re going to try our dead-level best to keep our good programs.”

Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or Follow him on Twitter, @johnwferguson.


(31) comments

Mark Stevens

Let's see...the President of our Historic Medical School has to go cap in hand to the legislature to get funding to serve the neediest of our citizens.

That same legislature, however, is preoccupied with such grave issues as Lt. Governor Dan Patrick's idiotic Bathroom Bill.

Something is wrong with this picture...and that something is Dan Patrick and other politicians who invent bogus issues to hid what they are really doing in Austin.

Mark W. Stevens

PD Hyatt

Duh oil revenues are down and so the state must cut programs to stay within budget.... Bathroom bill does not cost the state a nickle.... It just protects women and children from perverts....

Gerhard Meinecke

not a nickel? then who will pay the genital police to perform the gender checks

Carlos Ponce

Herr Meinecke, I had a higher opinion of you until I read this post. There will be no "genital police to perform gender checks". Is there a officer at every stop light to make certain you don't run it? Stores, malls, schools already have security personnel to investigate.

George Croix

Question for UTMB
How much money would be available for other uses if you were not deliver illegal aliens babies, and pre/post natal care, except in emergencies??

Gerhard Meinecke

Did you work in the plants?

George Croix

I was employed in one for decades but never delivered any babies....

Gerhard Meinecke

did you belong to the union?

Raymond Lewis

Mr. Croix, perhaps you have found the solution for the needed forty-seven million.

Gerhard Meinecke

Mr. Croix has a solution for everything, just take a look at his 6800+ comments. don't understand why, with all his wisdom, he isn't running for Count Judge, Governor or President?

George Croix

It's more fun to just remain a private citizen and so get to pick and close who I talk to .. and who's return talk matters to me...

Gerhard Meinecke

and you don't have to be responsible or accountable, can just second-guess from the shadows. nice. don't think I've ever seen you in any meetings. never read anything constructive from you. mmmmmhhhh

George Croix

Mr. Lewis a reasonably on top of it 7 year old knows somebody has to pay for things they get.
When they get a little older it keeps getting easier to see that the more kids at the party the less came and punch for each.
A little later they find out about 'friends' who bum rides and food and never reciprocate.
Still letter they discover budgets at work and learn about cutting here if spending too much there.
Then some of them become 'progressives' and forget it all... going back to pre-schoolboy times when everything was given, or, to that little kid, free....

George Croix


Not close enough

Jack Cross

George Croix asked a reasonable question? "How much money would be available for other uses if you were not deliver illegal aliens babies, and pre/post natal care, except in emergencies"??

Do any of you think this is a reasonable questions? Do any of you know the answer to this questions? If the state is cutting funding don't you think taxpayers should know where the losses are occurring? Do any of you believe in transparency. If Americans citizens have to answer questions before being admitted to any public hospital, such as residence, work, insurance or not, do you think that it is right to prohibit asking undocumented patients from being asked these questions and hiding the number of people being treated or the costs.
In 2009 when the state forced the County to increase its indigent care cost to UTMB, i represented the Commissioner Court and Dr Ben Raimer made arrangements for UTMB financial heads to meet with me and give me this data.
I can tell you that it is illegal aliens are have more babies across the state than the American Citizens who are paying for them. Once the baby is delivered, the whole family becomes eligible for a big package of welfare, Illegals at the emergency room are considered sponsored patients ( insured) paid for by a special fund set up by congress. They told me that occasionally they get a single patient that runs up a bill of over a million dollars. It is not so much that UTMB is losing money, it is American Taxpayers and the State. When these cost and the huge costs of the increase of educating these students who come from poor families, the working American taxpayer picke up the bill. George Croix asked a good question. The Galveston News and other news org who always demand transparency of local governance should ask questions and expose the void of transparency about the real costs of this immigration.

Gerhard Meinecke

we have to thank Ronald Reagan for that. he crafted regulation that forced medical facilities to take care of people regardless of ability to pay. Wasn't he Republican? I wish the Republican dominated Congress would repeal that. Then there would be no need to force people into Medical Insurance.

Gerhard Meinecke

and no, children of undocumenteds should NOT receive citizenship.

George Croix

Jack, do ya figure that question will ever get answered? I don't.
Priorities are seriously screwed .
You 'd think there would be a law against illegally entering the country...
oh. Wait.....there is

George Croix

Mr. Meineke I am quite happy not living to your personal standards.

See you at #7800! 😄😄😄😄😄😄😄

George Croix

Mr. Meineke, what do I look like???? Hhhmmm

George Croix

Sorry I didn't see your 'not responsible and accountable' note earlier, but I was trying to shoot a few hogs earlier.
I didn't mean to be rude.
No, I've never been responsible or accountable to you.
A list of my other responsibilities and accountabilities is available to my friends.
Would you like an application??

Gerhard Meinecke

Mr. Roix

do you enjoy shadow boxing? You seem to. Why otherwise would you think I...
... expect you to be accountable to me or anyone?
... would want an application for anything?
...would expect you to live up to my or any standard?

Just made some observations, drawn from some of your 6840+ posts. Maybe after a few more thousands I would see the folly of those observations, lol

So far I see words that seem to come from someone who can never agree with anyone, but as I said... I know only your comments, not you.

George Croix

Dadgummitt.....missed another of your questions Mr. Meineke...sorry
Have I ever been a member of a union?
Sure....been united in Holy matrimony for decades.....

Any other questions??

Keith Gray

Darn soulless jackals...[innocent]

George Croix

The feral hogs here would agree with that, Mr Gray.

Mark Stevens

Most or all of our correspondents on this one seem to be guys. Guys, ask your wives what it feels like to be in labor and about to deliver. No fun, with or without modern drugs.

Are we really so selfish that we would deny delivery services to ANY woman?

Under a federal law known as EMTLA, hospitals are required to furnish delivery services to women in labor. That's because labor is sensibly included in the category of "emergencies."

Perverts in bathrooms? A fantasy. Child molesters all too typically pick on children known to them. Forcible rapists know better than to attack in a room likely to draw unexpected visitors at any time.

My own fantasy is some "guy" attacking a woman in the powder room, only to find out that the "woman" is really an ex-guy with 24 inch biceps and martial arts skills.

Mark W. Stevens

Carlos Ponce

"Perverts in bathrooms? A fantasy." WRONG!
Tell these women and children who were assaulted that the attack was just a "fantasy".

"A 23-year-old woman was raped in the bathroom of a Manhattan bar, where a man grabbed her by the throat, forced her into a stall and attacked her."

"SAN DIEGO — A young woman fought off a man who attacked her in the women’s bathroom at a park in Logan Heights Tuesday night, police said."

"A man, arrested for trying to sexually assault a woman inside the restroom of a Gaslamp restaurant, also forced his way into rooms at a nearby hotel, telling women he was an undercover officer who was hurt and needed help, investigators said."

"Police: Man attacks 6-year-old girl in women’s bathroom"

"Man Attacks 8-Year-Old Girl In Women’s Restroom"

"A woman was using a Big Lots bathroom when a man crawled under her stall"

"ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ruidoso police are looking for a man who allegedly attacked a 45-year-old woman in a public restroom last Thursday evening, the Ruidoso News reported."

"Man in Barbie costume attacks woman in bathroom"

Unfortunately, many many more. Fantasies? I think not.

George Croix

Mr. Stevens surely as an attorney you must know the difference between a citizen/legal resident or even vacationer experiencing an emergency, compared to someone, make that some thousands, ILLEGALLY in this country and for the express purpose of not just getting free for them pregnancy care and delivery but to also drop anchor.
It is a diversion to conflate good will with illegality, is it not. Should it also be OK for other thieves to take your stuff if they can get into your house....

It seems to me that anyone complaining of low funds should be more upfront about how much is going now to support people who are not even supposed to be here.. that transparency thingy.....

Jack Cross

Mr. Stevens it is you who are living out a fantasy, apparently you have no idea how illegal immigration is impacting the average American Citizen. Have you read the stories about Texas has a school funding crisis. Did you see just today where Texas Schools are near the bottom in performance? Dis you know that 52 percent of Texas School children are Hispanic and growing, Are you aware that most of these are from poor families and they are contributing to pulling test scores down. Illegal immigrants are costing the nation 15 billion a year, just for medical expenses. Texas has as part of Medicaid a special children's fund for children with special needs, at the time when I interviewed UTMB about this subject, 71 percent of the children treated were for children of undocumented mothers. State Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball says that 81 percent of babies delivered right here at LBJ hospital right here in Houston are from undocumented mothers. 70 percent of all births in Texas Public hospitals are to non citizens. The costs average $10,000 per birth with a national costs in the billions. With 52 percent of students in Texas Public schools Hispanic and looking at these birth numbers, what do you think Texas is going to look like in just a few years. Mr. Stevens no wonder you democrats are for this illegal invasion.
Open borders and illegal immigration was No 1 on the list for Trumps victory, by you democrats don't give a damn about the concerns of the people who put Trump in office. You are living out your fantasy by ignoring the cost to U.S. taxpayers and how it is driving up school costs and standards down. I can't blame these illegals if our own government offers incentives for them to come and the democratic party gives them cover.

Jack Cross

Click on this 2009 radio interview of me and George Lee on his show
about my findings on undocumented patients treated by UTMB and all
public hospitals. The Costs a overwhelming, UTMB is covered by most
of this because these patients are considered sponsored patients, but it
costs the state of Texas and the Federal Government. Bottom line is these
undocumented patients are automatically insured and the costs and numbers
are hidden from American Taxpayers. Before anyone can make a pro or con argument about immigration, you have to know the numbers. Why is this hidden.
Why doesn't the GDN challenge me. Why doesn't the press print that these hospitials are told by the Feds and the Texas Health and Human services that they don't want to know who these patients are or the number????

George Croix

Jack, you are trying to confuse with facts people who have already made up their minds without any....[beam][beam][beam][beam]

The GOAL is future voting power to make a PERMANENT leftist led society....a goal short-circuited for at least 4 years....and if us usually lazy conservatives will get off our duffs again and KEEP pushing our agendas we can make it a little longer than that.....
Perhaps having a job, especially a good one, will come back in style and dependency and 'safe spaces' for rhymes with itty babies will become moribund....
Perhaps....depends on the intestinal fortitude of people preferring to care for themselves as much as possible rather than be kept ......

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