81st (2009) Texas Legislative Session

TMA has all the resources and information you need to stay abreast of the legislative action. A couple ways you can stay informed throughout the session is to sign up for TMA's Legislative Daily or Weekly Hotlines and Action Alerts. Take time today to read Doctor's Orders: TMA's Prescription for a Healthy Texas

Top Priorities 

Immunizations
Improving reimbursements to physicians for administering vaccines is important. It ensures children have a regular physician in charge of their care - a medical home - and protects our communities from preventable diseases.

Another Immunization Bill Signed Into Law
There is more good news from the capitol. Gov. Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 347 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) into law yesterday. Texas may now exchange immunization information with other states during a public health emergency. (May 14, 2009)

Obesity
Obesity and related diseases like diabetes are major factors behind rising health care costs and health insurance premiums. Texas spends $5.3 billion on medical costs related to overweight and obesity. To stop the obesity epidemic, we must focus on preventing obesity rather than treating the diseases that it causes.

Smoke-Free Texas
Banning smoking in public places is one of the easiest, simplest, and fastest public health interventions Texas could undertake. Twenty-eight states have adopted smoking bans in restaurants; 22 of these states also prohibit smoking in workplaces. TMA believes it is time that Texas joins these ranks.

Medical Liability Reforms
The 2003 liability reforms have worked. They've lived up to their promise. Sick and injured Texans now have more physicians who are more willing and able to give them the medical care they need. In fact, Texas has gained more than 14,000 new physicians, including many high-risk specialists such as emergency medicine, neurosurgery, pediatric intensive care, and pediatric infectious disease.

Graduate Medical Education (GME)/Workforce
Texas needs more GME slots to train the number of physicians required to care for our rapidly growing population and reverse our overdependence on other states and countries. It is not good fiscal policy for the state to invest $200,000 in each Texas medical student over four years, and then force graduates to leave the state for residency training. Those new physicians very likely will never return to Texas.

Mental Health
Mental illness costs the state and local governments more than $1.5 billion per year. Each person repeatedly jailed, hospitalized, or admitted to detoxification centers can cost the state $55,000 per year. We must expand the availability of community-based mental health care for adults and children, including prevention and early intervention.

Texas Medical Board
TMA continues to advocate for a strong board with fair processes and actions to enforce Senate Bill 104, which was passed along with liability reforms in 2003. That law strengthened the board's enforcement capabilities and added a surcharge to physicians' licenses to pay for more staff and equipment. It also directed TMB to focus on quality of care and impairment issues.

Taxes and Public School Finance
Medicine's mission is to preserve the tax deductions that help preserve patients' access to health care services.

Ownership of Health Care Facilities
While physician investment in the health care system is not new, there have been considerable changes in health care financing and coverage over the past decade. These changes drive the debate over who can invest in a facility.

Health Information Technology
Health information technology (HIT) has tremendous potential to improve the quality of care, prevent medical errors, and streamline health care delivery systems. Government and employers are pushing physicians and health care providers to adopt HIT more rapidly so they can better assess the value they receive from their health care dollar.

Prescription Electronic Monitoring
TMA believes an electronic prescription monitoring system should be robust, meet the needs of law enforcement and licensure boards, enhance patient care, and protect patient privacy.

Cancer Prevention and Detection
Primary care physicians are the front line of cancer prevention and detection. It is important that Proposition 15 funding help enhance care for Texas patients and reduce the incidence of cancer in the state by educating physicians about the latest cancer treatments and technological advances.

Workers' Compensation System
House Bill 7, passed in 2005, offered Texas the tools we need to make drastic improvements to our workers' compensation system. Transferring regulation of the comp program to the Texas Department of Insurance has had a positive impact. Even though the physician fee schedule was improved, many physicians still do not participate in the program. Physicians simply cannot afford the additional burden and hassle created by the workers' compensation insurance industry.

Free-Standing Emergency Departments (FSEDs)
The public must trust that FSEDs provide the same level and quality of care as hospital-based emergency departments and that they meet the public's expectations of what an emergency care facility can provide. To ensure that FSEDs provide safe, high-quality, and appropriate emergency care, minimum operating criteria should be established. 

Testimonies 

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Past Legislative Sessions 


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