TMA Legislative News Hotline: Friday, March 27, 2015


This week’s TMA Legislative News Hotline video brings you a quick summary of the top news at the Capitol affecting your patients and your practice: Hear John Holcomb, MD, describe improvements to how Medicaid investigates doctors’ practices for fraud; watch Dawn Buckingham, MD, describe pros and cons of a plan to change mediation for claim disputes — including a proposal that could cost doctors money; see C.M. Schade, MD’s, insight into eliminating the state’s controlled substance registration; see Jason Terk, MD, describe why e-cigarettes are harming Texas’ kids and what should be done about it; and finally, Arlo Weltge, MD, details a new plan aiming to provide critical direction during urgent-care situations.    



By an overwhelming 392-27 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday approved HR 2, the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act. The bill would eliminate the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula immediately, and extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years. “It is time to end the SGR,” said U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville), the lead House author. “Let us never speak of this issue again.” Thanks to a strong grassroots expression of support from TMA members, 30 of Texas’ 36 House members voted for the measure. The Senate adjourned for its Easter recess Friday without considering the bill. “We appreciate the support of Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and will work with him to ensure that the Senate puts this bill at the very top of the agenda when Congress reconvenes next month,” said TMA President Austin I. King, MD. See next week’s issue of TMA’s Action newsletter for an update on how Medicare bills will be handled for services provided after April 1.


Next week will be budget week in the Texas House of Representatives. The lower chamber begins debate on the House Appropriations Committee’s draft of the 2016-17 state budget on Tuesday, March 31. The total price tag for House Bill 1 is $209.8 billion, up from the $202.1 billion current budget. The bill includes $460 million to increase Medicaid payments to Medicare levels for many primary care physicians and providers.

On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to debate House Bill 2, a supplemental appropriations bill for the current state budget. It primarily provides funding to shore up the Teachers Retirement System and to cover Medicaid caseload growth.


 The physician of the day at the Capitol is Vip Mangalick, MD, of San Marcos. Dr. Mangalick graduated from St. George’s University School of Medicine in St. George’s, Grenada. He is a member of TMA and the Tri-County County Medical Society.


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