By Tommy Reynolds
I strongly supported and co-sponsored H. B. 610, which will provide $31 million dollars to begin the construction of a new facility for the training of Mississippi doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
If this bill passes, next year an additional amount of $31 million will likely be authorized, and the state’s existing inadequate facility for the training of doctors will instead become a state of the art learning center.
Currently, the University of Mississippi Medical Center where doctors are trained can graduate a class of only 135 students per year. When the new facility is built, hopefully by 2017, class sizes can be increased from 135 to up to 200 graduating students each year. Also, additional nurses and other healthcare professionals will be able to be trained at this facility.
Mississippi has the highest doctor per patient ratio in the United States of America, and also has high ratios of other healthcare providers to our number of people.
It is my belief that training more healthcare providers in our state would increase quality and availability of healthcare to the citizens of our state. Mississippi is leading in the nation in conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, which cause high incidence of heart and cardiovascular disease and a high incidence of stroke. Our state also has a very high incidence of cancer. I believe that any time we can improve healthcare for our citizens and their quality of life, we are doing a good thing as a state.
I am happy to report that H. B. 610 passed the House with only a handful opposing it. I spoke for passage of the bill in the House Ways and Means Committee. The current facility is 58 years old, and the new facility will allow our state to have access to the most modern facilities for training of our physicians.
The House also passed another measure, which I supported, H. B. 307, which removes the maximum limitation on the number of students who can participate in the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarships program each year. The program was established by the Legislature to provide scholarships to students who would serve in rural, small town areas of our state.
The bill will remove the limitation on the program which capped the number of students who could participate annually, and will provide in the future that not less than 15 students per year will be admitted to the MRPS program.
As a condition of their service in the program, these medical students must agree to serve as doctors in rural and underserved areas. This creates a direct method to help assure healthcare for our rural and small town residents.
Both H. B. 610 and H. B. 307 have been sent to the Senate for review and deliberation. Both of these measures will help more Mississippians not only gain access to healthcare providers but also obtain careers in the healthcare industry.
If I can be of any assistance to you please call on me. The phone number at my home is (662) 473-2571. I can also be contacted by writing to me at my home address of 15 CR 429, Water Valley, MS 38965 or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.