11 Days Remaining in 2013 Legislature
ACTION IN THE HOUSE
Big news. The House gave its final approval yesterday to Senate Bill 406 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) that strengthens the physician-led medical team model. Once Senator Nelson concurs with the agreed-to cleanup amendments placed on the bill in the House, the bill will go to Gov. Rick Perry for his signature. After months of negotiations, physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants now have a more efficient and delegated practice model that allows members of the health care team to practice to their level of education and training. And it strongly reinforces the practice of physician-led teams.
The House also gave final approval to Senate Bill 64 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton). It requires licensed child care facilities to develop and implement an immunization policy for their employees to protect the children in their care from vaccine-preventable diseases.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) sunset bill received preliminary approval by the House yesterday. Senate Bill 215 by Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) and Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) would continue the functions of the THECB. A couple of items in the bill of interest to medicine require public comment at each board meeting before the board makes decisions on agenda items. It also requires THECB to assess graduate medical education in Texas on a biannual basis. Representative Zerwas added an amendment to the bill that ensures Texas’ limited clerkships are prioritized for Texas medical students.
TMA’s legislation to improve due process, transparency, and expediency when the Medicaid Office of Inspector General (OIG) accuses a physician of fraud or abuse is before the House today. Senate Bill 1803 by Senator Huffman and Representative Kolkhorst makes these six changes to the process:
- Promotes transparency and due process in the investigation and resolution of Medicaid overpayment and payment holds based on a “credible allegation of fraud;”
- Describes the information that must be included in the notice to providers who are subject to a payment hold or proposed overpayment, including a description of supporting evidence and a description of the provider’s right to seek informal resolution, administrative appeal, or both;
- Provides timelines and procedures for seeking informal resolution of a payment hold or proposed overpayment;
- Describes a provider’s right to appeal a final overpayment determination or payment hold and the applicable timelines for exercising his or her appeal rights.
- Directs Medicaid OIG to hire a medical director and dental director to assist with investigations; and
- Directs Medicaid OIG to post an explanation of its payment hold policies and procedures on its website.
Two more bills before the House for debate and vote today are:
- Senate Bill 63 by Senator Nelson that allows a minor who is pregnant or is a parent to consent to his or her own immunizations; and
- Senate Bill 495 by Senator Huffman and Rep. Amando Walle (D-Houston). The bill would create a multidisciplinary task force within the Department of State Health Services to study women's morbidity and mortality from causes related to or aggravated by pregnancy. The task force findings will guide improvements in health care to reduce complications for women.
Taxes: The Senate Finance Committee approved House Bill 3556 by Rep. John Otto (R-Dayton) that imposes 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 would tax these new tobacco products at a lower rate than current ones.
PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY
The physician of the day at the Capitol is Dan Sepdham, MD, of Flower Mound. Dr. Sepdham graduated from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in 1997. He is a member of TMA and the Dallas County Medical Society. Three medical students will be accompanying Dr. Sepdham today.
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