The Texas Medical Board (TMB) is charged with licensing physicians and enforcing the Texas Medical Practices Act. Amid the 2003 medical liability reform battle, the board underwent significant legislative examination. Tort reform opponents wanted greater scrutiny of physicians. The Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 104, with strong support from TMA. The bill enhanced the board’s enforcement capabilities and imposed a surcharge on physicians’ licenses to pay for staffing and infrastructure improvements. It also directed TMB to focus on quality of care and impairment issues.
Historically, only about one-third of a physician’s licensing fee goes to TMB for operations and oversight of physicians. Since 2007, TMB has made gains in implementing an online application process, which significantly improved its processing time for licensure. It also increased the number of new licenses granted each year. This has been critical because since the passage of medical liability reform in 2003, Texas has added an estimated 21,000 new physicians to active practice.
In 2009, an effort was made to weaken TMB’s oversight of physicians. The measure did not pass but is likely to arise again in 2011. TMA will continue to advocate for a strong, fair, and accountable TMB to protect the public.
Medicine's 2011 Agenda
- Oppose measures that would increase physicians’ licensing fees.
- Oppose efforts that would diminish the agency’s ability to protect public safety, such as weakening its ability to sanction physicians for non-therapeutic treatment or prescribing.
- Support legislation to increase from 30 to 45 days the period in which a physician must respond to a notice of complaint.
- Support legislation to ban truly anonymous complaints while allowing disclosure if the complaint comes from an insurance company or its representative.
- Support legislation to require TMB to abide by the decisions of the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) in disciplinary matters.
- All Texans must be confident that they are receiving the highest quality of care and that their physicians are qualified, competent, and adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards.
- TMB should focus on its statutory charges and work to improve its administrative and disciplinary processes so they are fair and understandable for all.
- Fairness in disciplinary hearings supports requiring that TMB be bound by SOAH rulings. Either party could still appeal SOAH findings in court.
- Medicine must rely on rigorous, scientific investigation to determine which therapies work, which don't, and what risks they may pose to the patient. And physicians should be held to the high ethical standards of the profession. In fact, the original Texas Medical Practice Act was written nearly 100 years ago to rid the profession of charlatans and snake oil salesmenAll Texans must be confident that they are receiving the highest quality of care and that their physicians are qualified, competent, and adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards.