Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill creating a medical school at the University of Houston amid concerns about a physician shortage in the state.
Under the legislation signed into law Wednesday, the University of Houston's College of Medicine will be the 13th medical school in Texas. It will be based in the UH System's flagship campus in Houston. Nearly half of the Texas medical schools are in the Houston area.
On Thursday, Abbott described UH as on the way to being "one of the world's preeminent universities." He said he plans to do a ceremonial signing of the bill in Houston.
“The University of Houston continues to cement itself as a top tier University, and I was proud to sign HB 826 into law establishing the University Of Houston College Of Medicine," Abbott said in a statement. "As Governor, I have pledged to elevate Texas’ institutions of higher education and this bill furthers that goal."
The bill, authored by state Rep. John Zerwas R-Richmond, unanimously passed the Texas Senate last week after coming over from the House, where it also passed by a wide margin. Supporters of the bill said it would help meet the demand for physicians as the Texas population continues to grow. The Texas House passed a similar bill creating the Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine the same day as HB 826, but it has not yet hit the Senate floor.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board signed off on creating a medical school at the University of Houston in October, along with a medical school at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
University of Houston President Renu Khator said in a statement Thursday that the university is grateful to the Legislature and the governor for recognizing the need for more primary care doctors in Texas.
“With the UH Medical School, we will be able to better serve the state and particularly those who need access to healthcare the most,” Khator said.
The new college of medicine is dependent on $20 million of funding set aside in the state’s budget through 2021, according to an analysis from the state’s Legislative Budget Board. A statement from the University of Houston said the university will continue to ask for an additional $20 million over the next eight years.
The bill takes effect September 1 and the school is projected to accept a class of 30 students in Fall 2020.
Disclosure: The University of Houston, Sam Houston State University and the University of North Texas System have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
Correction: The original version of this story gave the incorrect amount of additional funding that the University of Houston will seek for its medical school in future years.