The Texas Medical Association's victories in the 2013 legislative session became official when Gov. Rick Perry signed into law TMA-backed bills to reduce the red tape snarling your practice and to give your patients new protections.
Governor Perry signed bills that:
- Reduce your red tape and administrative hassles;
- Prevent third-party payers from stealing from you;
- Rein in overzealous Medicaid fraud-and-abuse investigations;
- Provide tax relief for small businesses;
- Establish physician-led medical teams;
- Strengthen Texas' physician workforce; and
- Protect your medical judgment.
TMA President Stephen L. Brotherton, MD, said Texas physicians applaud the governor for signing bills "that take important steps to protect patient safety by ensuring the right professional is providing the right care permitted by his or her education, training, and skills; improve Texas' vaccination policies; and dramatically reduce red tape and hassles in a physician's practice that delay patient care."
Among the bills the governor signed are:
- House Bill 1803 by Rep. Bill Callegari (R-Katy) and Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), which eliminates bureaucratic red tape and prevents patient care disruptions. Every year, you have to print and mail a paper application to the Texas Department of Public Safety for a Controlled Substances Registration (CSR) permit. The permit sometimes takes several weeks, even months to process. Without it, you can't work in your local hospital or prescribe medications. Under the new law, your CSR permit renewal is due every two years instead of annually, and the state will process the application at the same time as your medical license renewal. You also can reapply for the permit electronically with the Texas Medical Board.
- Senate Bill 1803 by Senator Huffman and Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), which improves due process and expediency when a physician is accused of Medicaid fraud or overpayments. The bill clarifies the definition "credible allegation of fraud" and establishes timelines for the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to notify doctors of an investigation and hold payments in the process.
- Senate Bill 1216 by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) and Rep. Sara Davis (R-West University Place) and Senate Bill 644 by Senator Huffman and Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton), which will dramatically reduce the number of preauthorization forms. These two new laws will help to reduce administrative cost and hassles by creating two standardized forms that all health insurers, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program will use for preauthorizations. SB 1216 creates one form for medical and health services preauthorizations, while SB 644 creates one form for prescription preauthorizations.
- Senate Bill 406 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and Representative Kolkhorst, which establishes a more streamlined and less bureaucratic system of supervision and strengthens physician-led patient care teams. Physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants are natural and important partners in patient care. The new law strengthens this partnership but continues to recognize that independent prescribing is the practice of medicine.
- Senate Bill 63 by Senator Nelson and Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville), which allows minors who are pregnant or who are parents to consent to their own vaccinations. This helps well-intentioned young moms and dads get the shots they need to ensure they don't pass potentially deadly diseases on to their babies.
- Senate Bill 64 by Senator Nelson and Representative Zerwas, which requires licensed child care centers to create an immunization policy for their staff who work with children.
Darren Whitehurst, TMA's vice president for advocacy, and the TMA lobby team discuss the results of the 2013 session.
The August issue of Texas Medicine will have a complete wrap-up of TMA's accomplishments in the 2013 session.
TMA Calling Tuesday
Legislators delivered for you and your patients, and TMA wants to make sure you know how the new laws will help you, your practice, and your patients. TMA will conduct a Tele-2013 Legislative Update at 8 pm CDT on Tuesday, June 25. Dr. Brotherton will call you at your home telephone number. All you have to do is stay on the line. He and TMA's lobby staff will discuss the 2014-15 state budget and new laws that will protect you and your patients.
You may ask questions after each topic and use your phone to participate in a survey. You can earn 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ for your time if you stay on the line for the entire program.
If you prefer that Dr. Brotherton call you on your cell or office telephone, please contact the TMA Knowledge Center by telephone at (800) 880-7955 or by email by Monday, June 24.
Action Special Report, June 19, 2013