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TX Medical Board Rapped for Poor Oversight

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 24, 2012

"These violations are not minor," Sidney Wolfe, MD, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, said in a media release accompanying the report. "In our investigation we've identified physicians who have committed gross breaches of medical and ethical standards, yet they have not been sanctioned by the state medical board, the institution whose primary duty is to make sure practitioners taking care of Texas patients are qualified to do so."

In his letter to Perry, Wolfe blamed the board's problems mostly on underfunding and understaffing.

"Currently, the Medical Board brings in about $60 million from licensing and renewal fees over a two-year budget period. Because of a state legislature policy decision, the Medical Board gets to keep only one-third, $20 million, of the licensing and renewal fees over the two-year period, while two thirds, or $40 million, is turned over to the state general revenue fund," Wolfe said in the letter.

From 2006 to 2011, Wolfe said that there has been a 57% increase in the number of complaints to the board. "But during this interval, the board's budget, adjusted for inflation, increased only 12%, and the number of staff increased by only 16%," the letter said.

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