2005 Legislative Compendium: Medical Science

Newborn Genetic ScreeningHuman Cloning/Stem Cell Research  |  TMA Council on Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke  |  Statewide Stroke System  |  Medical Science Near Miss  

Newborn Genetic Screening

HB 790 by Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton) and Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) requires the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to conduct a study by March 1, 2006, to determine the most cost-effective method of conducting newborn screening (including screening for disorders listed in the core uniform panel of newborn screening conditions recommended in the 2005 report by the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) titled, Newborn Screening: Toward a Uniform Screening Panel and System); and to maximize the number of newborn screenings that may be conducted with the funding available for the screening. By Oct. 1, 2005, DSHS shall review and study the National Newborn Screening and Genetics Resource Center's assessment of the screening program in this state. DSHS must file a written report of the study's results and conclusions with the governor's office by March 1, 2006. DSHS may adjust the amounts charged for newborn screening fees, including fees assessed for follow-up services, tracking confirmatory testing, and diagnosis. No later than Nov. 1, 2006, DSHS shall implement the expanded program using the most cost-effective methods. TMA's major concerns were to ensure the ACMG report would be the basis for expansion and that the state infrastructure be shored up prior to actually expanding the screening. The Texas Pediatrics Society joined TMA in lobbying for those aspects and supplying legislators with several iterations of substitute legislation language.

Human Cloning/Stem Cell Research

Thirteen bills were filed this session relating to human cloning and/or stem cell research. None passed. TMA policy supports stem cell research, including embryonic, umbilical cord blood, and adult stem cells. Filed bills were a mixed lot, with some promoting scientific research while banning human cloning; others would have greatly restricted Texas' health science centers from conducting promising medical research in this area. Given the intense state and national interest in stem cell research, this issue will remain a hot legislative topic and surely will be revisited in 2007.

Cloning/Stem Cell Bills TMA Supported
HB 1929 by Rep. Beverly Woolley (R-Houston) and its companion SB 1733 by Sen. Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso) defined "human cloning," "human somatic cell," "nuclear transplantation," "nucleus," "oocyte," "regenerative or reparative medial therapy or treatment," and "unfertilized blastocyst." Both bills specifically prohibited human cloning and prohibited a person from maintaining unfertilized blastocyst
for more than 14 days. Penalties were named, and research was required to have Institutional Review Board oversight. The bills would have established an advisory committee on research to develop regenerative or reparative medical therapies or treatments, under the authority of the HHSC commissioner. TMA supported these bills because they did not restrict scientific research, including nuclear transplantation, in order to develop regenerative or reparative medical therapies or treatments. The bills mandated committee adoption of research guidelines by June, 2006. Neither bill passed.

HB 2948 by Reps. David Swinford (R-Dumas) would have prohibited human cloning and the shipping of the product of nuclear transplantation for the purpose of cloning, exporting unfertilized blastocysts to a foreign country that does not prohibit cloning, and conducting nuclear transplantation on fertilized eggs. Included was wording for protection of research involving nuclear transplantation. Unfertilized blastocysts could not be maintained for more than 14 days. Oocytes used in nuclear transplant were required to be donated voluntarily, and nuclear transplantation could not be done in a laboratory in which human oocytes are subject to assisted reproductive technological treatments or procedures. Civil penalties were named. HB 2948 did not pass.

SB 128 by Senator Shapleigh prohibited human cloning, but specifically stated that it would not restrict or prohibit scientific research, including nuclear transplantation, to develop regenerative or reparative medical therapies or treatments. This bill did not pass.

Cloning/Stem Cell Bills TMA Opposed
HB 864 by Rep. Phil King defined "embryo," "fetus," "human cloning," "oocyte," and "somatic cell." "Human cloning" was defined to eliminate all forms of embryonic stem cell research. The bill prohibited 1) attempting or performing human cloning; 2) participating in an attempt; 3) shipping/transferring a human embryo or fetus produced by human cloning and/or receiving such: 4) shipping, transferring, receiving (wholly or partially) any oocyte, embryo, fetus, or human somatic cell for the purpose of human cloning; 5) and performing research on a human embryo or fetus created by human cloning. Another concern: The description of what was not  restricted regarding scientific research was left open, which could be problematic. HB 864 did not pass.

HB 2081 by Rep. Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) would have prohibited the use of state money for embryonic stem cell research or for supporting research involving the destruction of human embryos.

HB 2311 by Rep. Charlie Howard (R-Sugar Land) would have prohibited transfer of an embryo except in an adoption proceeding. The bill required the legal process of adoption for an embryo to be transferred to anyone besides the persons contributing genetic material for an embryo. SB 943 by Sen. Ken Armbrister (D-Victoria) and several bipartisan cosponsors was very similar to HB 864. TMA opposed the bill as it would have eliminated all human embryonic stem cell research. None of these bills passed.

TMA Council on Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke

HB 2344 by Rep. Vilma Luna (D-Corpus Christi) and Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) will elevate the TMA Council on Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke to the same standing and visibility of other chronic disease councils, like those on diabetes and cancer. The bill will expand the council's powers and duties so the council will be much better equipped to fulfill its mission of education, awareness, and action among Texans to reduce the human and financial toll of cardiovascular disease and stroke (CVD).

The bill amended the appointment process and composition in two ways: granting appointment powers to the governor, and reconstituting the 11-member council to mandate specific appointments, including licensed physicians specializing in cardiology, neurology, and primary care. Furthermore, the bill empowers the council to specifically address primary and secondary prevention of CVD and stroke and women's heart health, in addition to the establishment of two fiscal accounts. The Heart Disease and Stroke Resource Fund, which will receive gifts, grants, and legislative appropriations, and the Heart Disease and Stroke "You're the Cure" Account, which will be maintained by the council outside the state treasury and will receive gifts, grants, and donations. The council will be required to make written recommendations to the HHSC and the legislature for performing its duties. The council also may advise the legislature on legislation that is needed to further develop and maintain a statewide system of quality education services for all persons with CVD or stroke, as well as develop and submit legislation or comment on pending legislation that affects persons with CVD and stroke. 

Statewide Stroke System

SB 330 by Sen. Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) and Rep. Jim McReynolds (D-Lufkin) establishes an emergency transport system for stroke victims. The goal of SB 330, which was developed by the Texas Chapter of the American Heart/Stroke Association, is to quickly identify and transport patients to appropriate stroke treatment facilities, including designated stroke facilities if indicated. TMA supported the intent of the bill, but expressed numerous concerns about it. Over the course of the session, TMA worked with the bill sponsors to amend the bill to prevent statutory references to specific clinical guidelines and protocols and to deemphasize creation of designated stroke centers. Many physicians objected to the state sanctioning specific stroke centers, raising concerns about bypassing other equally qualified facilities, inadequacy of physician workforce to meet the needs of designated centers, and liability issues. Many physicians also raised clinical concerns regarding the safety of some stroke treatments.

The bill directs the Governor's EMS and Trauma Council (GETAC) to appoint a stroke committee no later than Jan. 1, 2006, and to help develop a statewide stroke emergency transport plan by Jan. 1, 2007. The plan is to be submitted to the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the house of representatives, and executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The bill sets forth requirements for composition of the stroke committee, which must include licensed physicians specializing in vascular neurology, interventional radiology, neurosurgery, and emergency medicine; a member of the Texas Council on Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke who has expertise in stroke care; a registered nurse with stroke care expertise; and a representative of the American Stroke Association, Texas Chapter.

SB 330 requires GETAC, with the assistance of the stroke committee and in collaboration with the Texas Council on Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke, to develop a statewide stroke emergency transport plan, and to consult the criteria for stroke facilities established by national medical organizations (such as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) when developing the stroke emergency transport plan. The stroke emergency transport plan must include:

  • Training requirements on stroke recognition and treatment, including emergency screening procedures;
  • A list of appropriate early treatments to stabilize patients;
  • Protocols for rapid transport to a stroke facility when rapid transport is appropriate and it is safe to bypass another health care facility; and
  • Plans for coordination with statewide agencies or committees on programs for stroke prevention and community education regarding stroke and stroke emergency transport.

The bill defines "stroke facility" as a health care facility that is capable of primary or comprehensive treatment of stroke victims; is part of an emergency medical services and trauma care system; has a health care professional available 24/7 who is knowledgeable about stroke care and capable of carrying out acute stroke therapy; and records patient treatment and outcomes.

Medical Science Near Miss

Medicinal Marijuana
HB 658 by Rep. Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) would have provided an affirmative defense to prosecution if a practitioner licensed to practice medicine in this state recommended marijuana for the amelioration of the symptoms or effects of a bona fide medical condition.

Medical Science TMA Staff Contacts:  

  • Hilary Dennis, Legislative Affairs, (512) 370-1370
  • Yvonne Barton, Legislative Affairs, (512) 370-1359
  • Barbara James, RN, Science and Quality, (512) 370-1400
  • C.J. Francisco, JD, Office of the General Counsel, (512) 370-1339 

Overview  | Tax Reform | Scope of Practice | Physician Ownership | Inadequate Health Plan Networks (Balanced Billing) | Managed Care/Insurance Reform | Texas State Board of Medical Examiners Sunset and Physician Licensure | Agency Sunset Review  | Corporate Practice of Medicine | Health Care Funding | Medicaid and CHIP | Indigent Care and the Uninsured | Workers' Compensation | Professional Liability Reform | Medical Education/Workforce | Child Health, Safety, and Nutrition/Fitness | Public Health | Border Health | Rural Health | Mental Health | Trauma/EMS | Prescription Drugs | Long-Term Care | Abortion | Transplantation/Organ Donation | Table of Contents  


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