Breaking…Are UT Dell Med School & Watson Misspending?

For Immediate Release                                                                            February 8, 2017

Are UT Dell Medical School and Sen. Kirk Watson
Misspending Central Healthcare Hospital District Funds?

Austin, 2:30 pm: UT Dell Medical School appears to be misspending taxpayer dollars committed to the Central Healthcare Hospital District. If they are, this raises serious questions about potential violations of law and the public trust, so says longtime reform attorney, Fred Lewis and former State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos (D-Austin). Linda Curtis of Independent Texans is raising questions about her own State Senator, Kirk Watson’s law firm having benefited from it.

From UT’s own financial records, the reports shows 84% of all UT Dell Medical School compensation is paid for with Central Health funds and the vast majority of these expenditures are going to personnel who do not provide any health care of any kind.

Linda Curtis of Independent Texans PAC said, “Everyone knows that Senator Watson has been the leading cheerleader for building the medical school, which is fine. However, when he failed to pass legislation in 2011 (SB 821) to authorize Central Health to help pay for medical education, I believe he continued to find ways to get his way. Senator Watson nor UT can now claim that in 2012, when Travis County voters gave the Health District the right to increase property taxes, they also gave them the power to do what SB 821, in its failure, did not do for them. Spending tens of millions of dollars per year — for things other than health care — is a rip off of low-income citizens, not to mention all who are paying for it.”

Lewis remarked that, “No other hospital district in Texas, to our knowledge, has funded a medical school’s non-health care services. Hospital districts typically contract with medical schools to provide health care for the poor, but no hospital district other than Central Health funds non-health care services of medical schools.”

Former longtime State Senator for the Austin area, Gonzalo Barrientos, helped draft the bill that passed in the 2003 legislative session to allow for the creation of the Central Healthcare Hospital District. Barrientos commented, “My intent in passing the law that we passed in the legislature was to create a district that medically treated poor people, not tomorrow, not next week, not next year but right now when they’re hurting.”

Senator Kirk Watson is a partner at Husch Blackwell LLP. The firm represents Central Healthcare Hospital District and has paid the firm over $3 million.

For more details on matters contained in this release, see these 4 charts and the Fred Lewis report.

For More Information:

Linda Curtis, 512-657-2089
Fred Lewis, 512-636-1389

 

 

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3 Responses to “Breaking…Are UT Dell Med School & Watson Misspending?”

  • peter staats:

    i smelled this scheme some years back- i tried and tried to voice my reservations to Kirk Watson, believing the bond vote and health tax increase was a smokescreen for acquiring the Brackenrdge Hospital for private development, closing Brackenridge Hospital to the indigent, funneling taxpayer dollars to the already affluent UT ands Dell. It is wrong, it is hurtful and it is immoral to take from the poorest and give to the wealthiest. Yet it happened.

  • Ernest Street:

    Unfortunately Kirk Watson is my senate representative. I do not attempt to contact him because, sanctimonious demagogue that he is, I know he is not the least interested in what a
    a couple of retired citizens – as my wife and I are – have to say.

  • Jeff Harper:

    Now let me get this straight about this grandiose design for the UT Dell Medical School. 1) Its proponents talk of all the great things they are going to do for the health of area citizens, most notably the poor. 2) A law firm with a well-connected politician is paid millions of dollars in legal fees as public funds are redirected from indigent care to hordes of administrators with distinguished titles and lofty goals. 3) The flow of tangible services for the here and now needs of the indigent is choked off. Sounds like more health-related paper-pushers will be buzzing around in new cars in west Austin while suffering for lack of basic services is compounded in the East!

    If this take on matters is correct, then it is difficult to imagine the Dell Family wanting to have their name associated with it. I had the pleasure of listening to an audiobook years ago and was most impressed with Mr. Dell’s intense focus on serving customers as delineated in the book. He and others built a great enterprise that has served millions of people extremely well. We, along with the Dell family, should do whatever we can to make sure that the laudable aims of this project are not hijacked by political insiders and bureaucrats who line their pockets while making claims at odds with their actions of “money for nothing.”

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