by Morgan Montalvo
With the 86th Texas Legislature in full swing, Texas doctors are hoping lawmakers will fund a wide range of public health initiatives they say are critical to the wellbeing of a fast-growing Lone Star State, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Dr. Doug Curran with the Texas Medical Association says those ideas include improving Medicaid and Medicare delivery and administration, re-authorizing state funding for cancer research, creating more in-state residency opportunities for medical school graduates, and several other programs that directly benefit the state's school-age population.
"In our early conversations, they've been very receptive to that," Curran tells News Radio 120 WOAI. "I think they're trying to sort out how much money they're going to use for education, and then they're wanting to be sure we get health care taken care of."
Curran says legislators are on board with the connection between healthy children and effective schools. Education funding is a top - and often controversial - priority among state decision makers.
"Medicaid issues and access to health care's going to be strategic in getting those kids ready to learn as our schools improve," he says.
Following the recent measles outbreak in the Galveston area, physicians statewide also want lawmakers to tighten up vaccination laws.
"If you look at what's made a big difference in health care over the last fifty years, it's clean water sanitation and vaccines," Curran says.
Many lawmakers, Curran says, also support the Tobacco 21 initiative, which calls for increasing nationwide to 21 the legal age to buy tobacco products.
Texas doctors also want the legislature to tighten up laws that govern the loosely regulated vaping industry, Curran says. Late last month, a Fort Worth man died after his vaping pen, also called an e-cigarette, overheated and exploded, sending a shard through his carotid artery.