From the onset, Lt. Governor Dewhurst recognized that state government is best equipped to develop and grow a strong and accessible health care system, not federal bureaucrats. As a businessman, he understood that the looming threat of legal action through malpractice suits was pushing doctors out of Texas and, sometimes, out of the profession all together.
In 2003, one of Dewhurst’s signature pieces of legislation, House Bill 4, completely changed the national landscape for medical tort reform. In Texas, medical malpractice liability insurance rates dropped more than 40% which encouraged more physicians to apply for Texas licenses, which increased access to care for Texas families. In the intervening years, more than 30,000 new physicians have been licensed to practice medicine in Texas, further improving access to care.
In the final analysis, Lt. Governor Dewhurst’s deep compassion merged with his leadership abilities to make Texas a healthier state and an example for the nation on innovative approaches to care.
As one of the rare elected leaders to actually read legislation and regulations, Lt. Governor Dewhurst was keenly aware of the negative impact that optimistically-named Affordable Care Act would have on the Texas economy, so he worked hard to protect Texas from Obamacare's budget-busting cost on state, business and family budgets. Instead, Lt. Governor Dewhurst championed a Texas solution that offered for greater flexibility in administering care while providing a health care safety net for our neediest citizens.
Convinced that Texas could be the epicenter of the battle to eliminate one of the deadliest killers known to mankind, Dewhurst urged the creation of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, devoting $3 billion dollars over ten years for cutting edge research on treatments and, eventually, cures for various types of cancer. As the Institute matured and its governance kept pace, Dewhurst remained involved in guiding the Institute to focus on its founding principles.
Concerned at the impact of inactivity that increasingly characterized the lives of Texas youth, Dewhurst teamed with Senator Jane Nelson and famed creator of aerobics, Dr. Kenneth Cooper, to fight childhood obesity with student physical assessments in Texas schools. The assessment provided children fitness goals and teachers’ a handy measure of their charges' progress toward wellness.
Compassionate by nature, Dewhurst worked to pass commonsense solutions to posed legitimate threats to the lives and wellness of young Texans. He succeeded in mandating steroid testing for student athletes, a program whose deterrent effect drove detectable use of performance enhancing drugs to near-zero levels. Dewhurst also championed smoking cessation programs and succeeded in winning funding to place lifesaving Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) in public schools.
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