Aug 1, 2013
As the dust settles on the 83rd regular session of the Texas Legislature, here's an excellent resource: The Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) August issue of Texas Medicine magazine, which offers an in-depth, detailed examination of new laws affecting patients and their physicians.
Texas Medicine’s coverage includes details on bills that reduce red tape, improve low-income women’s access to physicians’ care, and improve health. In addition to physician interviews, the magazine also shares comments from legislators who authored these important new laws, including Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston); Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound); Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown); Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton); Rep. Craig Eiland (D-Galveston); Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton); and Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner David Lakey, MD.
Key legislation outlined in Texas Medicine that TMA officials say will improve health care include:
- Widespread reductions in medical practice red tape, including development of uniform prior authorization forms across all health insurance payers, which simplifies and speeds up the delivery of care to patients; creation of a streamlined process for renewing doctors’ Controlled Substances Registration (CSR) permits, allowing them to prescribe medicine; plus a card-swipe remedy so patients don’t have to fill out so many forms.
- Landmark regulation of third-party payers or “silent PPOs” that take physician-contracted discounts without doctors knowing about it.
Patient Access to Care
The ability to get an CSR permit on time, swipe patients’ driver licenses for information, and cut down on hundreds of prior authorization forms “are things that seem really simple, but when you add them up, you’ve just saved [doctors and health care workers] a whole bunch of time and cost that can be put back into the delivery system,” said TMA Council on Legislation Immediate Past Chair Leslie Secrest, MD.
Regarding “silent PPOs,” TMA President Stephen L. Brotherton, MD, does not mince words. “It was basically stealing,” he said. “Physicians negotiated specific rates with different vendors, and through convoluted pathways, those rates were getting passed on to companies that were not making the same concessions, so doctors were not getting a fair bargain.” The new law regulates that practice ― just one of more than 10 ways TMA physicians say the Texas Legislature helped patients and physicians this session.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 47,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 112 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.
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Note: Please click here to view a video summary of the key legislation passed this session.
Contact: Pam Udall
phone: (512) 370-1382
cell: (512) 413-6807
Contact: Brent Annear
phone: (512) 370-1381
cell: (512) 656-7320
Visit the MeAndMyDoctor.com blog for interesting health care discussions.