McALLEN, RGV – The longtime chairman of the Border Health Caucus is hoping for a big turnout when his group hosts its 10th Annual Border Health Conference in El Paso later this week.

Dr. Manuel L. Acosta, an El Paso physician, says the stakes could not be much higher because healthcare challenges along the border are as great as ever.

“The border’s 32-county region tops the nation in high rates of residents who are obese or diabetic, live in poverty, or are uninsured. The demand for health care is great. Yet the region has one of the lowest rates of physicians per capita to care for our locals and to promote healthy behaviors and disease prevention,” Acosta said.

“Too few people understand the dynamics of healthcare along the border. We make things happen no matter what the obstacles, every single day. We need to educate the community and the decision-makers in Austin and Washington, D.C., of the challenges we face.”

The BHC, in conjunction with the Texas Medical Association, holds its Border Health Conference every August. The event usually attracts physician, government, academic, and business leaders. This year, the conference is slated to hear from three members of Congress, Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, William Hurd from San Antonio, and Michael C. Burgess, a physician.

Now in its tenth year, this week’s conference is being held at the El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center on the University of Texas at El Paso campus on Thursday, August 6. It is only the second time the conference has been held outside of Washington, D.C. Two years ago it was held in Laredo.

In a letter to El Paso news outlets encouraging attendance at the BHC’s conference, Acosta said good health and poor health affects all of society.

“Financially, in our workforce, and in our economy, what happens in health care delivery affects business, taxes, and our government, and in turn, they influence health care delivery,” Acosta said.

“The goal of the conference is to make a difference, to assemble the people who influence health care delivery in our communities so they can develop solutions to the unique challenges that our doctors and patients face. We must ensure that access to care is a reality for all Texans, for all people in our cities, towns, and neighborhoods. If you care about the survival and growth of our community … and want to see it improve … you will enjoy this conference.”

Acosta listed the issues that will be covered by the conference. “We’ll cover a variety of issues, including how to improve public health; how federal health reform, managed care, graduate medical education, and change in Medicare’s payment system all affect Texans’ ability to get a physician’s care; and how health care, government, and private stakeholders can collaborate to help physicians deliver good care to border patients,” Acosta said.

Eduardo Olivarez, Hidalgo County’s chief administrative officer for health and human services, is slated to speak on a panel titled “The Border is Only a Line on a Map.”

A panel titled “Ensuring Access – Overcoming Obstacles to Care” will include the analysis of Manny de la Rosa, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center-El Paso and a member of the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission, and Dr. Carlos Cardenas, chairman of Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg.

Editor’s Note: Click here for more information on the conference, including the complete agenda. 

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows Dr. Manuel L. Acosta of El Paso and Dr. Luis Benavides of Laredo at the 8th Annual Border Health Conference, held in Laredo in August, 2013.