2007 Legislative Compendium

Overview

When the 80 th Texas Legislature convened in January, the Texas Medical Association issued a plea for lawmakers to pass physicians' multi-point plan, "Preserving Patient Care." And that's just what they did. Led by medicine's numerous champions in the House and Senate, the legislature passed bills to reduce our uninsured population, reform the health insurance industry, enhance access to care, and bolster our public health infrastructure.

The highlight reel will point out that the 2007 Texas Legislature:

  • Enacted a historic 25-percent overall increase in Medicaid payments to physicians for children's care, and a 10-percent hike for adult services;
  • Allowed no dilution of Proposition 12 or the landmark 2003 medical liability reforms;
  • Rescinded most of the 2003 cuts made in eligibility for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), providing health insurance for 120,000 additional children;
  • Relaxed health plans' stranglehold on patient information;
  • Approved the creation of a premier Cancer Prevention and Research Institute;
  • Maintained physicians' tax deductions for Medicaid, Medicare, TRICARE, workers' compensation, charity care, and CHIP;
  • Established lower marginal tax rates on the state's new business tax for businesses with less than $900,000 in annual gross receipts;
  • Instituted changes to protect access to care for worker's compensation patients and ensure appropriate review mechanisms are instituted by the health plans;
  • Took the first steps toward requiring health plans to use smart card technology for patients; and
  • Put structured physical education back into Texas public schools.

The 2007 Legislative Compendium details each major legislative issue that TMA followed and worked on during the session. It describes TMA's many accomplishments and some "close calls" and "near misses." Close calls are bills that almost passed, which organized medicine preferred did not. Near misses are bills TMA supported but did not make it through the legislative process.

TMA's 2007 goal was to enter the 80 th legislative session with strong stakeholder support and smart strategies for each top-priority item. Two tactics were initiated in fall 2005. The first was to create special ad hoc committees to study and develop recommendations for TMA's legislative platform. These committees studied Medicaid and the uninsured, scope of practice, health insurance reform, and responsible ownership.

The second was to bring together key players at three TMA Healthy Vision 2010 summits. More than 65 stakeholders attended the summits, representing medicine, business, insurance, hospitals and other health care professionals, and government. The summits helped to build support among political and business leaders, and to develop legislative agendas on the uninsured and on wellness and prevention.

TMA Board of Trustees, Council on Legislation, and policy components already are conducting a post-session analysis to better understand the issues medicine will face in 2009. The action plan will include:

  • Active engagement of grassroots physicians in local meetings and educational forums with legislators;
  • Participation in the election cycle through TEXPAC, TMA's political action committee;
  • Assessment of nascent physician issues through member surveys; and
  • Participation in legislative interim studies, and formation of physician work groups to develop legislative recommendations on key issues facing patients and physicians.

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