3 Days Remaining
With only three days left of the 2013 legislative session, TMA can proudly say it’s been a great year. At this point, we know the state budget bill increases funds for mental health, substance abuse, and women’s health services, and increases funding for graduate medical education. And, many of TMA’s key bills made it through both chambers and now await Gov. Rick Perry’s signature. Watch TMA’s Legislative News Hotline video featuring TMA’s chief lobbyist Darren Whitehurst discussing several major bills in play with Steve Levine, TMA’s vice president of communications.
Here are a few bills on the governor’s desk awaiting his decision.
- Senate Bill 406 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) strengthens the physician-led medical team model.
- Senate Bill 24 by Sen. Chuy Hinojosa (D-McAllen) and Rep. Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville) establishes a new university in South Texas, including a medical school, within The University of Texas System.
- Senate Bill 63 by Senator Nelson and Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville), would allow a minor who is pregnant or is a parent to consent to his or her own immunizations.
- Senate Bill 822 by Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), and Rep. Craig Eiland (D-Galveston) would put into place a needed law to regulate silent PPOs.
- House Bill 15 by Representative Kolkhorst and Senator Nelson would appoint a task force of physicians and other experts to help establish maternal and neonatal levels of care in Texas. The bill divides the state into neonatal and maternal care regions.
- House Bill 217 by Rep. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) and Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) would reduce the types of sugar-sweetened drinks sold in Texas’ public schools, such as sodas, whole milk, and electrolyte drinks.
- House Bill 740 by Sen. Bob Deuell, MD (R-Greenville), and Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton) would add screening for critical congenital heart disease to the panel of screenings conducted on all newborns in Texas.
- House Bill 1018 by Rep. Diane Patrick (R-Arlington) and Senator Nelson would include fitness goals as part of the campus improvement plan for public schools. This step will help integrate physical activity objectives with other campus goals related to academic achievement, coordinated school health, and parental involvement.
Several bills are still in conference committee where House and Senate members are resolving differences due to amendments. Others that were in conference have been resolved and are on the House and Senate Items Eligible calendars today for approval. These include:
- Senate Bill 644 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and Representative Zerwas requires the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to appoint a stakeholder workgroup to design a standard prescription drug prior-authorization form applicable across all payers, including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
- House Bill 1803 by Rep. Bill Callegari (R-Katy) and Senator Huffman that would start the renewal of physicians’ Department of Public Safety (DPS) Controlled Substances Registration with their online medical license renewal at the Texas Medical Board.
- Senate Bill 1216 by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) and Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place) requires TDI to appoint a stakeholder workgroup to design a standard request form for prior authorization of health care services applicable to all payers.
- Senate Bill 7 by Senator Nelson and Rep. Richard Raymond (D-Laredo) aims to save money in the Medicaid program by expanding Medicaid HMOs to people with intellectual and development disabilities and to nursing home residents.
- Senate Bill 227 by Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) and Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton), would allow physicians to dispense aesthetic pharmaceuticals in excess of the patient’s immediate needs without a pharmacist license. Drugs include bimatoprost for growing eyelashes; hydroquinone, a skin whitener; retinoid for improving skin; and metronidazole to treat rosacea.
- Senate Bill 646 by Sen. Robert Deuell, MD (R-Greenville), and Rep. Elliot Naishtat (D-Austin) amends current law relating to court-ordered outpatient mental health services.
- Senate Bill 1150 by Senator Hinojosa and Rep. Bobby Guerra (R-McAllen) requires the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to implement a “provider protection plan” under Medicaid HMO or other arrangements and incorporate the plan into the contracts between HHSC and the plans. Plans must pay claims properly and promptly. The bill imposes penalties on plans that engage in low-pay, slow-pay, no-pay activity.
• Senate Bill 1643 by Senator Williams and Representative Alvarado improves access to prescription information by physicians. It allows them to delegate information retrieval to a nurse and allows for connection to DPS through a health information exchange, as long as proper security measures are in place to protect against disclosure to unauthorized individuals. The bill also allows physicians to include that information in a patient’s medical records, but that information would be subject to any applicable state or federal confidentiality or privacy laws.
One item listed on today’s House Items Eligible Calendar has been sent to a conference committee. House Bill 500 by Rep. Harvey Hiderbran (R-Kerrville) and Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) establishes a $1 million state franchise tax deduction for small businesses. It could give many Texas physicians needed relief from the state’s franchise tax. The House version of the bill also contains amendments important for medicine, including one that allows physicians to deduct vaccine purchase cost from taxable revenues.
Yesterday, the House concurred with amendments to House Bill 3536 by Rep. John Otto (R-Dayton) and Senator Hinojosa. HB 3536 would impose a tax on all cigarettes and tobacco products not covered by the tobacco settlement agreements. The Texas Public Health Coalition worked to have language removed that called for taxing these new tobacco products at a lower rate than current ones. The House also concurred with amendments to House Bill 1605 by Representative Davis, which directs HHSC to develop and implement a pregnancy medical home pilot in a Harris County Medicaid HMO. Both bills now go to the governor for signature.
PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY
The physician of the day at the Capitol is John Redman, MD, of Anahuac. Dr. Redman graduated from The University of Texas Medical Branch in 2007.
WHAT WE’RE READING