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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Backlog of Physician Licensing Applications

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I’m Doug Hawthorne, president and CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

Texas could potentially lose thousands of doctors to other states or countries because the Texas Medical Board doesn’t have enough staff to license and credential physicians in a reasonable amount of time.

According to the Texas Hospital Association, it takes up to nine months for a physician’s license to be processed and approved in Texas. In contrast, Oklahoma can license a physician in four to six weeks.

Reforms passed by the Legislature in 2003 have reduced medical malpractice insurance costs in Texas. In turn, more out-of-state physicians and medical school graduates are now choosing to practice medicine in Texas. About 4,500 physicians applied for a Texas license last year – compared to the 2,300 in 2003.

Consider the impact of more physicians. They can provide care to the growing number of Texans who need it. Plus, physicians and related services generate millions of dollars for the Texas economy.

Texas hospitals have requested $348,000 in emergency funds from the governor's office for staff and equipment for the state licensing board. Out-of-state physicians and new doctors should be welcomed to Texas with open arms – not a log jam of applications.

For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based hospitals – Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial – I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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