TMA Legislative Hotline

Hotline is a daily electronic newsletter exclusively for TMA members that reports the legislature's latest actions on bills affecting Texas medicine.

House Budget Writers Delve into Health Care

(Budget, Public Health) Permanent link

vote story

UNDER THE ROTUNDA
In what are likely the last of its early-session ceremonial floor gatherings, the Texas House and Senate met briefly yesterday and the House adjourned until Monday afternoon. The Senate recessed until tomorrow morning to refer bills to committee and will then adjourn until Tuesday morning. Both will be back in time for the Texas Medical Association’s first First Tuesdays at the Capitol of the session.

The Legislative Budget Board yesterday gave the House Appropriations Committee an overview of the detailed formulas that comprise funding requests for Medicaid in the 2020-21 draft state budget. Those formulas are expected to cover caseload growth, though not necessarily cost growth, which can’t be completely known ahead of time. Also addressed were mental health, school safety, and Child Protective Services.

In other House news, Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress) was appointed to the House Republican Caucus’ Policy Committee, which is tasked with making policy recommendations throughout the session to assist House members with their floor votes.

The Senate Finance Committee will hear testimony on the Texas Medical Board and other health care agencies on Monday. Invited testimony for Article II – all Health and Human Service-related agencies – will be presented Tuesday. We will bring you updates as they are available.

Three full weeks into session, bill filing continues as the March 8 filing deadline nears. The current count is more than 1,830 bills filed. The Texas Medical Association is monitoring nearly 400 of them – in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Five weeks remain for bills to be filed — the rate of filing likely will accelerate as time runs down.

 HEALTHY VISION 2025

Today, TMA focuses on its legislative plans to hold health insurance companies accountable for what they sell. “My responsibility as a patient’s physician is to know the risks of administering anesthesia, not administering their personal insurance plan,” said TMA board member and Beaumont anesthesiologist Ray Callas, MD.

Healthy Vision 2025 – released this week – seeks to draw a health insurance reform roadmap for legislators. Recommendations include:

Protect physicians’ rights to set their charges and collect outstanding balances;

  • Support the continued use of mediation for patients to resolve surprise bills;
  • Require health plans to create and maintain adequate networks;
  • Require health insurance companies and their agents to explain in plain language exactly what a patient’s health plan will and won’t cover, as well as the patient’s financial responsibility, before they purchase a policy;
  • Prohibit insurance plans and pharmacy benefit managers from switching patients’ prescription drugs for non-medical reasons; and
  • Prohibit plans from terminating physician contracts without cause.

Want to help spread and promote TMA’s Healthy Vision for Texas? Become a TMA social media ambassador.

RECOGNIZING THE REMARKABLE DON READ, MD

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the state Senate recognized and commended TMA Past President Don Read, MD, for his dedication to generations of patient-centered care in Texas. The proclamations, along with a flag flown over the Capitol, were presented to Dr. Read at TMA’s Winter Conference.

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK REDUX

With committee assignments complete, bills will quickly get moving in the remaining 117 days of session. Different phases of the legislative process invite and require different kinds of participation. Review this quick refresher on how a bill becomes a law in Texas so you can be a more effective grassroots advocate for TMA.

ARE YOU A LEGISLATIVE JUNKIE?

If talk of bills and committees and backroom deals initiate tachycardia, you might want to join TMA Leading Advocates. It’s TMA’s exclusive Facebook group for legislative advocacy. Enjoy special features, news in advance, and a community of TMA members who are excited to talk about the Texas Legislature and medicine's advocacy priorities. This closed group is open only to TMA and TMA Alliance members, and TMA and county medical society staff. Join today.

TAKE ACTION

TMA’s 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas.

Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health.

For more details, see “On Call at the Capitol” in the January issue of Texas Medicine.

TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol – we’ll see you next week;
  • Testify before a House or Senate committee;
  • Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
  • When called to do so, respond to Grassroots Action Center alerts on specific bills via our new VoterVoice app; and/or
  • Make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests. TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session.

PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY

Physician of the Day is a service the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) provides the Texas Legislature. Each day the legislators are in session, the group names a physician to serve in the Capitol. This tradition started in 1971 and has continued every legislative session since, including special sessions. This program is organized by TAFP with support from TMA and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Physician of the Day is introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives each day, and his or her name becomes a permanent part of the official legislative record.

Today’s physician of the day is Traci French, MD, of Belton. Dr. French graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and is a member of TMA and the Bell County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING 

The Texas Medical Association’s 2019 Legislative Priorities – D CEO Healthcare

Opioid Money Has Helped, But States Want More – Stateline

The startling toll on children who witness domestic violence is just not being understood – USA TODAY

California-based Pipeline Health expands in Dallas area, buys 22 stand-alone emergency rooms – The Dallas Morning News

Pflugerville mother claims ER didn’t have enough notepads for son’s pain prescription – CBS Austin

Old emails hold new clues to Coca-Cola and CDC’s controversial relationship – CNN

Congress takes on unexpected medical bills, sparking industry turf war – Politico

House Budget Committee Hears Health Funding Requests

(Public Health) Permanent link

state-capitol

UNDER THE ROTUNDA
The House and Senate floor sessions yesterday were brief and primarily ceremonial. The governor and the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas were formally invited to address a joint session of the legislature next Tuesday, the Texas Medical Association’s first First Tuesdays at the Capitol of the session.

The House Appropriations Committee yesterday received a brief overview of funding requests for Medicaid, mental health, school safety, and Child Protective Services. In-depth hearings on Article II, which is health and human Services-related spending, begin next week. Which representatives will serve on the Article II subcommittee has not been announced.

The Senate Finance Committee is meeting daily for the foreseeable future, with discussions on the Texas Medical Board and other health care agencies scheduled for Monday. Invited testimony for Article II will be presented Tuesday. We will bring you updates as they are available.

Three weeks into session, bill filing continues as the March 8 filing deadline nears, albeit more slowly than previous sessions. The current count is nearly 1,800 bills filed. The Texas Medical Association is monitoring more than 375 of them ¾ in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Five and a half weeks remain for bills to be filed — the rate of filing likely will accelerate as time runs down.

The House and Senate both recessed until next week; the House returns Monday and the Senate on Tuesday.

HEALTHY VISION 2025

Today, TMA focuses on its legislative plans to address the state’s chronically high uninsured rate and improve its stressed Medicaid system.

“We want access to care for all Texans,” TMA President Doug Curran, MD, said during a Healthy Vision 2025 sneak preview for TMA leaders Saturday. “That means proper payment for Medicaid service and insurance coverage for our working poor. And that means more federal dollars ¾ dollars Texans have been sending to Washington for years but that get spent in other states.”

TMA’s prescription to enhance access to health care includes innovative coverage models for the working poor, competitive Medicaid payment rates, a revolution of simplicity and transparency for all of the state’s health programs, further investments in cost-effective ways to grow the physician workforce, and more progress on telemedicine.

Want to help spread and promote TMA’s Healthy Vision for Texas? Become a TMA social media ambassador.

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK REDUX

Now that the legislature completed committee assignments, bills will quickly get moving in the remaining 118 days of session. Please plan to participate in TMA’s grassroots advocacy efforts with this quick refresher on how a bill becomes a law in Texas.

ARE YOU A LEGISLATIVE JUNKIE?

If talk of bills and committees and backroom deals initiate tachycardia, you might want to join TMA Leading Advocates. It’s TMA’s exclusive Facebook group for legislative advocacy. Enjoy special features, news in advance, and a community of TMA members who are excited to talk about the Texas Legislature and medicine's advocacy priorities. This closed group is open only to TMA and TMA Alliance members, and TMA and county medical society staff. Join today.

TAKE ACTION

TMA’s 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas.

Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health.

For more details, see “On Call at the Capitol” in the January issue of Texas Medicine.

TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol – we’ll see you next week;
  • Testify before a House or Senate committee;
  • Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
  • When called to do so, respond to Grassroots Action Center alerts on specific bills via our new VoterVoice app; and/or
  • Make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests. TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session.

PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY

Physician of the Day is a service the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) provides the Texas Legislature. Each day the legislators are in session, the group names a physician to serve in the Capitol. This tradition started in 1971 and has continued every legislative session since, including special sessions. This program is organized by TAFP with support from TMA and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Physician of the Day is introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives each day, and his or her name becomes a permanent part of the official legislative record.

Today’s physician of the day is David Schneider, MD, of Dallas. Dr. Schneider graduated from Boston University School of Medicine and is a member of TMA and the Dallas County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING 

Healthcare Job Growth, Demand Expected to Remain Strong Through 2019 – HealthLeaders

Texas Medical Association Awards Local Garden Nonprofit – D CEO Healthcare

Tarrant County sees drop in flu-like illnesses in January – Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Vaping among teens, kids “threatens five decades of public health gains,” experts say – CBS News

The Opioid Crisis is America’s Deadly New Normal – U.S. News & World Report

House Budget Committee Kicks Off

(Budget, Public Health) Permanent link

Capitol_Dome

UNDER THE ROTUNDA

The House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond), launched into action today with its first meeting covering a smattering of topics from the Economic Stabilization Fund (also known as the “Rainy Day Fund”) to Hurricane Harvey recovery. The Rainy Day Fund is estimated to have a balance of more than $15 billion at the end of the next biennium.

The Senate budget-writing committee is in full swing and will be meeting daily for the foreseeable future. Both Representative Zerwas and Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) indicated discussions on the Texas Medical Board, other health care agencies, and Article II (which covers health and human services) will begin next week. We will bring you updates as they are available.

Two weeks into session, bills continue to be filed in advance of the March 8 filing deadline, albeit more slowly than last session. The current count is more than 1,700 bills filed. The Texas Medical Association is monitoring more than 360 of them ¾ in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of about 20 percent of all bills filed. Six weeks remain for bills to be filed.

 HEALTHY VISION 2025

Today, we’re focusing on those portions of TMA’s advocacy agenda that aim to correct the root causes of physician burnout: government overregulation, check-the-box demands from electronic health records (EHRs), and insurance company meddling in patient care. TMA’s Healthy Vision 2025 ¾ released this week ¾ seeks to eliminate the burnout-inducing interference that wastes physicians’ time and delays their patients’ care. Recommendations to the Texas Legislature include:

  • Forcing insurance companies to sharply limit prior authorization requirements and streamline the process for obtaining prior approval for medications or procedures;
  • Preserving physicians’ authority to prescribe appropriate medications without pharmacies interfering or overriding their valid orders;
  • Reducing the burden of required use of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program;
  • Requiring EHR and health information exchanges to ensure their products can integrate data seamlessly among physicians, providers, and public health agencies; and
  • Clarifying a 2017 state law to explicitly state that hospitals may not require maintenance of certification for staff privileges unless the physician members of the hospital’s medical staff affirmatively vote after Jan. 1, 2018, to do so. 

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK REDUX

Now that the legislature completed committee assignments, bills will quickly get moving in the remaining 120 days of session. Please plan to participate in TMA’s grassroots advocacy efforts with this quick refresher on how a bill becomes a law in Texas.

ARE YOU A LEGISLATIVE JUNKIE?

If talk of bills and committees and backroom deals initiate tachycardia, you might want to join TMA Leading Advocates. It’s TMA’s exclusive Facebook group for legislative advocacy. Enjoy special features, news in advance, and a community of TMA members who are excited to talk about the Texas Legislature and medicine's advocacy priorities. This closed group is open only to TMA and TMA Alliance members, and TMA and county medical society staff. Join today.

TAKE ACTION

TMA’s 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas.

Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health.

For more details, see “On Call at the Capitol” in the January issue of Texas Medicine.

TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol;
  • Testify before a House or Senate committee;
  • Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
  • When called to do so, respond to Grassroots Action Center Alerts on specific bills via our new VoterVoice app; and/or
  • Make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests. TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session.

PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY

Physician of the Day is a service the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) provides the Texas Legislature. Each day the legislators are in session, the group names a physician to serve in the Capitol. This tradition started in 1971 and has continued every legislative session since, including special sessions. This program is organized by TAFP with support from TMA and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Physician of the Day is introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives each day, and his or her name becomes a permanent part of the official legislative record.

Today’s physician of the day is John Manning, MD, of Troy. Dr. Manning graduated from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and is a member of TMA and the Bell County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING 

Houston’s vaccination exemption rate should make you sick [Opinion – Editorial] – Houston Chronicle

Put the health back into health care [Opinion – Op Ed] – TribTalk

State unveils designs for new psychiatric hospital in San Antonio – San Antonio Express-News

Austin State Hospital to be replaced by 2023, state health officials say – Austin American-Statesman

Fear of Deportation Or Green Card Denial Deters Some Parents From Getting Kids Care – KUT, NPR

Injunction Lifted in Case to Oust Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid Provider – The Austin Chronicle

Balancing the Risks and Benefits of Opioids for Children – The New York Times

Steep Climb in Benzodiazepine Prescribing By Primary Care Doctors – NPR

FDA Says Up to Two Million People Exposed to Likely Carcinogens in Blood-Pressure DrugsThe Wall Street Journal

 

Senate Dives Into State Budget

(Budget, Public Health) Permanent link

state-capitol

UNDER THE ROTUNDA
With committee assignments now made, the House and Senate gaveled in yesterday to take roll and quickly adjourned until Monday afternoon. Action quickly moved to one of the newly named committees.

The Senate budget-writing committee held its first meeting Tuesday, and on Wednesday a draft budget was presented for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), among other government agencies. The proposed 2020-21 CPRIT budget is just over $436 million, a nearly 27-percent cut from the 2018-19 budget. The Texas Medical Association submitted written testimony encouraging full funding of CPRIT. We will keep you apprised of future developments.

Two weeks into session, bills continue to be filed in advance of the March 8 filing deadline, albeit more slowly than last session. The current count is more than 1,530 bills filed. The Texas Medical Association is monitoring 313 of them, in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of about 20 percent of all bills filed.

Attend TMA’s 2019 Winter Conference this week to learn more about our legislative agenda for this session and how you can quickly and easily participate in our advocacy efforts.

THE BUDGET

With committee assignments finalized, and the state budget being the one constitutional responsibility of the legislature, expect discussions on the budget to ramp up quickly. 

The draft 2020-21 budget bills that were introduced in the House and Senate last week will go through numerous changes during the next couple of months, and TMA will vigorously pursue adequate funding for house of medicine priorities, including Medicaid, graduate medical education, and public health investments. Keep an eye on your email inboxes for calls to action to assist us in our efforts.

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK REDUX

While the legislature continues organizing and naming committees, and before we ask you to participate in TMA’s grassroots advocacy efforts, here’s a quick refresher on how a bill becomes a law in Texas.

ARE YOU A LEGISLATIVE JUNKIE?

If talk of bills and committees and backroom deals initiate tachycardia, you might want to join TMA Leading Advocates. It’s TMA’s exclusive Facebook group for legislative advocacy. Enjoy special features, news in advance, and a community of TMA members who are excited to talk about the Texas Legislature and medicine's advocacy priorities. This closed group is open only to TMA and TMA Alliance members, and TMA and county medical society staff. Join today.

TAKE ACTION

TMA’s 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas.

Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health.

For more details, see “On Call at the Capitol” in the January issue of Texas Medicine.

TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol;
  • Testify before a House or Senate committee;
  • Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
  • When called to do so, respond to Grassroots Action Center Alerts on specific bills; and/or
  • Make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests. TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session.

WHAT WE’RE READING
Texas launches website to fight prescription drug abuse – Houston Chronicle

Americans aren’t having enough babies to repopulate: CDC – KTRK-TV

PhRMA spent a record $27.5 million on lobbying in 2018 – STAT News

Insider Q&A: Cigna CEO Seeks Deeper Push Into Patient Health – The Associated Press

Expecting Care: How Texas is failing foster kids and contributing to an alarming teen pregnancy rate – The Texas Observer

From North Texas, a Low-Tech Fertility Solution Goes Viral – D Magazine

How to Inoculate Against Anti-Vaxxers [Opinion – Editorial] – The New York Times

Our View: Tech medical school changed face of health care across West Texas [Opinion – Editorial] – Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Senate and House Committees Named

(Public Health) Permanent link

abortion_blog
  UNDER THE ROTUNDA

In brief floor sessions yesterday, the House and Senate recognized visitors to the Texas capitol and adjourned.  

House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) has moved quickly, announcing committee assignments today. Typically they are announced much later in January.

Of the committees TMA works with most closely, several significant changes are noted, not but Appropriations, which will continue to be led by Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond).

Public Health is now chaired by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), Insurance is now chaired by Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville), Human Services is now chaired by Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), and State Affairs is now chaired by Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont).

Here are the committees to which Speaker Bonnen appointed the four physician representatives, and other friends of the house of medicine:

  • Rep. Greg Bonnen, MD (R-Galveston): Appropriations, Insurance.
  • Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place): Appropriations, Insurance.
  • Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Dallas): Insurance, Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence.
  • Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress): Calendars, Insurance (Vice Chair), and Natural Resources.
  • Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville): Appropriations, Public Health.

We expect bill referrals to committees to begin right away.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released Senate committee appointments late last week. Of particular note to Texas physicians are the Health and Human Services Committee, now chaired by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham); the Business and Commerce Committee, still chaired by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills); and the Finance Committee, to be led again by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound).

Here are the committees to which Lieutenant Governor Patrick appointed the three physician senators:

  • Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway): Nominations (Chair), Criminal Justice, Health and Human Services, and Higher Education.
  • Sen. Donna Campbell, MD (R-New Braunfels): Veterans Affairs and Border Security (Chair), Business and Commerce, Education, Finance, Health and Human Services, and Intergovernmental Relations.
  • Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown): Agriculture, Business and Commerce, Intergovernmental Relations (Vice Chair), Transportation, and Veterans Affairs and Border Security.

Two weeks into session, bills continue to be filed in advance of the March 8 filing deadline, albeit more slowly than last session. The current count is more than 1,400 bills filed. The Texas Medical Association is monitoring more than 300 of them. Attend TMA’s 2019 Winter Conference to learn more about our legislative agenda for this session and how you can quickly and easily participate in our advocacy efforts. 

 GME FUNDING HOLDS STEADY

Proposed 2020-21 funding levels for graduate medical education (GME) reflect strong support among state legislators and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, with enough funding at just over $157 million to cover the GME Grant Expansion Program for the next biennium.  

This would allow Texas to sustain the recent GME growth but will not allow for the creation of new residency positions. In total, funding for GME for the 2020-21 biennium is $267 million, an increase of almost 33 percent from 2018-2019. TMA’s goal is to ensure enough funding for 1.1 residency slots for each Texas medical school graduate. 

Funding for other programs related to the physician workforce pipeline, such as Primary Care Preceptorships, the Family Medicine Residency Program, and Physician Education Loan Repayment, is not at the increased level we hoped for, which would have restored cuts from previous sessions, but at least no new cuts have been proposed. 

All of these numbers come from the draft 2020-21 budget bills that were introduced in the House and Senate last week. The documents will go through numerous changes over the coming months, and TMA will lobby to at least maintain the GME appropriation and to reverse previous years’ cuts in the other programs. 

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK REDUX

While the legislature continues organizing and naming committees, and before we ask you to participate in TMA’s grassroots advocacy efforts, here’s a quick refresher on how a bill becomes a law in Texas.

ARE YOU A LEGISLATIVE JUNKIE?

If talk of bills and committees and backroom deals initiate tachycardia, you might want to join TMA Leading Advocates. It’s TMA’s exclusive Facebook group for legislative advocacy. Enjoy special features, news in advance, and a community of TMA members who are excited to talk about the Texas Legislature and medicine's advocacy priorities. This closed group is open only to TMA and TMA Alliance members, and TMA and county medical society staff. Join today.

TAKE ACTION

TMA’s 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas.

Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health.

For more details, see “On Call at the Capitol” in the January issue of Texas Medicine.

TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol;
  • Testify before a House or Senate committee;
  • Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
  • When called to do so, respond to Grassroots Action Center Alerts on specific bills; and/or
  • Make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests. TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session.

PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY

Physician of the Day is a service the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) provides the Texas Legislature. Each day the legislators are in session, the group names a physician to serve in the Capitol. This tradition started in 1971 and has continued every legislative session since, including special sessions. This program is organized by TAFP with support from TMA and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Physician of the Day is introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives each day, and his or her name becomes a permanent part of the official legislative record.

Today’s physician of the day is Ronnie McMurry, MD, of Jasper. Dr. McMurry graduated from the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara and is a member of TMA and the Jasper-Newton County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING 

County By County, Researchers Link Opioid Deaths To Drugmakers’ Marketing – Kaiser Health News

Rural Hospitals in Greater Jeopardy in Non-Medicaid Expansion States – Stateline

Editorial: Listen to Texans and expand Medicaid coverage [Opinion – Editorial] – Austin American-Statesman

Planned Parenthood calls ruling against group ‘extremely hostile’ as judge weighs how to proceed – The Dallas Morning News

Texas among states with highest rates of unvaccinated kids – KTRK-TV

FDA threatens to pull e-cigarettes off the market – The Hill

A Rising Threat to Pregnant Women: Syphilis – The New York Times

Video Recap: Health Commissioners Push for More Public Health Funding

(Public Health) Permanent link

As lawmakers were beginning to look over proposed budget bills in both the House and the Senate, Texas’ most recent health commissioners made a bid for adequate public health and prevention funding this week in a rare appearance together.

The Texas Medical Association hosted the event. We hear some of their arguments in this week’s Legislative News Hotline video.

Also, TMA Advocacy Vice President Darren Whitehurst completes his summary of TMA’s top legislative priorities, covering public health, behavioral health, opioids, and the Texas Medical Board. 

Watch that and more in this week’s video report.

Legislative Hotline video features TMA Vice President of Advocacy Darren Whitehurst detailing parts of our legislative wish list, starting with the budget and better Medicaid funding.

 

 

Both chambers will meet again Tuesday, when the Senate Finance Committee is expected to begin work. House committee appointments also should be announced next week. 
For more legislative news, check out TMA’s website

Also, make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests, and TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session.  

 

Senate Gets Budget Bill Moving

(Budget, Public Health) Permanent link

Capitol_Dome

UNDER THE ROTUNDA
In a brief floor session yesterday, the Senate referred its first bill to committee – Senate Bill 1, the draft 2020-21 budget, to Finance – indicating that committee appointments are expected at any moment. The Senate Finance Committee begins work Tuesday. House committee appointments should be announced next week.

Light agendas mean the House and Senate quickly adjourned until Tuesday.

In the meantime, bills continue to be filed in advance of the March 8 filing deadline, albeit more slowly than last session. The current count is more than 1,250 bills filed. The Texas Medical Association is monitoring more than 265 of them. Attend TMA’s 2019 Winter Conference to learn more about our legislative agenda for this session and how you can quickly and easily participate in our advocacy efforts.

New legislative sessions mean office relocations for many senators and representatives; find your lawmakers’ offices on this list.

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK REDUX

While the legislature continues organizing and naming committees, and before we ask you to participate in TMA’s grassroots advocacy efforts, here’s a quick refresher on how a bill becomes a law in Texas.

ARE YOU A LEGISLATIVE JUNKIE?

If talk of bills and committees and backroom deals initiate tachycardia, you might want to join TMA Leading Advocates. It’s TMA’s exclusive Facebook group for legislative advocacy. Enjoy special features, news in advance, and a community of TMA members who are excited to talk about the Texas Legislature and medicine's advocacy priorities. This closed group is open only to TMA and TMA Alliance members, and TMA and county medical society staff. Join today.

TAKE ACTION

TMA’s 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas.

Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health.

For more details, see “On Call at the Capitol” in the January issue of Texas Medicine.

TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol;
  • Testify before a House or Senate committee;
  • Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
  • When called to do so, respond to Grassroots Action Center Alerts on specific bills; and/or
  • Make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests. TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session. 

WHAT WE’RE READING
Sacklers Directed Efforts to Mislead Public About OxyContin, New Documents Indicate – The New York Times

CDC Warns Americans: Don’t Go to Mexico for Plastic Surgery – WOAI Radio

Call the midwife! (If the doctor doesn’t object) – Kaiser Health News, NBC News

USPSTF Reaffirms Drugs for Women at High Risk for Breast Cancer – Medscape

Why Mental Health Advocates Want Schizophrenia Reclassified As A Brain Disease – Houston Public Media

Laredoan of the Year – Laredo Morning Times

Lawsuits Challenge Rules Limiting Who Can Perform Abortions – The Wall Street Journal

House and Senate Introduce Budget Plans

(Budget, Public Health) Permanent link

abortion_blog

 UNDER THE ROTUNDA
After a robust day of merriment and mirth, the pomp and circumstance of inaugural festivities quickly faded with the introduction of both House and Senate versions of the state’s 2020-21 budget, signaling a change in focus to the more serious.

Yesterday we told you about the House of Representatives’ draft budget. On Tuesday, the Legislative Budget Board delivered Senate Bill 1 to the governor and the Senate. The Texas Medical Association will share more detailed budget information and implications as we pore through the bills. At 989 pages, SB1 will take a few days to fully digest.

SB1 recommends biennial health and human services-related expenditures nearly equal to the House’s proposed budget, or just under $85 billion for the biennium. The difference is less than $3 million, yet it amounts to an approximate 9-percent increase over the Senate’s 2018-19 budget for Article II.

Different from the House budget, the Senate proposes increasing state general revenue funding for health care services by 3 percent. Federal funding for Article II is projected to be 13 percent higher.

As expected from discussions during the interim, the bill also calls for double-digit percentage increases from multiple funding sources for education and Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.

Senate committee announcements are expected any day. In the House, member preference cards were due to the speaker yesterday. The next step is for the speaker to match members to the committees they want and where he thinks they should serve.

In the meantime, bills continue to be filed in advance of the March 8 filing deadline, albeit more slowly than last session. The current count is more than 1,200 bills filed. TMA is monitoring more than 265 of them. Attend TMA’s Winter Conference to learn more about our legislative health care agenda for this session and how you can quickly and easily participate in our advocacy efforts.

New legislative sessions mean office relocations for many senators and representatives; find your lawmakers’ offices on this list.

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK REDUX

While the legislature continues organizing and naming committees, and before we ask you to participate in TMA’s grassroots advocacy efforts, here’s a quick refresher on how a bill becomes a law in Texas.

ARE YOU A LEGISLATIVE JUNKIE?

If talk of bills and committees and backroom deals initiate tachycardia, you might want to join TMA Leading Advocates. It’s the Texas Medical Association's exclusive Facebook group for legislative advocacy. Enjoy special features, news in advance, and a community of TMA members who are excited to talk about the Texas Legislature and medicine's advocacy priorities. This closed group is open only to TMA and TMA Alliance members, and TMA and county medical society staff. Join today.

TAKE ACTION

The Texas Medical Association's 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas.

Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health.

For more details, see “On Call at the Capitol” in the January issue of Texas Medicine.

TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol;
  • Testify before a House or Senate committee;
  • Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
  • When called to do so, respond to Action Alerts on specific bills; and/or
  • Make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests. TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session. 

PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY

Physician of the Day is a service the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) provides the Texas Legislature. Each day the legislators are in session, the group names a physician to serve in the Capitol. This tradition started in 1971 and has continued every legislative session since, including special sessions. This program is organized by TAFP with support from TMA and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Physician of the Day is introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives each day, and his or her name becomes a permanent part of the official legislative record.

Today’s physician of the day is Jose Hinojosa, MD, of Corpus Christi. Dr. Hinojosa graduated from the University of Iowa College of Medicine and is a member of the Bexar County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING

State health experts discuss 2019 threats to public health – KXAN-TV

State health officials call on legislators for funds to fight maternal deaths, tuberculosis – Austin American-Statesman

Addressing Healthcare Consumerism a Top Priority for Docs in 2019 – RevCycleIntelligence

Black and Hispanic youth are targeted with junk food ads, research shows -- CNN

Trump’s New Vision for Health Care [Opinion – Op Ed] – Forbes

Texas lawmakers could expand access to medical cannabis – Victoria Advocate

Celebrations and Goodwill Mark Inauguration Day

(Budget, Medicaid, Public Health, Women’s Health) Permanent link

state-capitol

UNDER THE ROTUNDA

Tuesday was a day of comity and celebration as the governor and lieutenant governor were feted with inaugural festivities, including a flyover and 19-gun salute. In a brief joint ceremony, the governor was officially sworn into office for his second term, and the House and Senate both recessed until Wednesday.

Senate committee announcements are expected soon. In the House, member preference cards were due to the speaker today. The next step is for the speaker to match members to the committees they want and where he thinks they should serve.

On Monday, the Legislative Budget Board delivered House Bill 1 to the governor and the House of Representatives. This session, the budget will originate in the House. A separate Senate budget proposal will be filed within the next few days. The Texas Medical Association will apprise you of details as we pore through them.

Counting state and federal funds, HB1 slightly increases funding for Health and Human Services by 1.5 percent to about $85 billion for the 2020-21 biennium, or about 34.3 percent of the state’s budget. However, the House proposed reducing state general revenue funding for health care services by 3 percent. The House recommended funding additional initiatives to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.

Overall Medicaid funding is more than the last biennium, mostly because of steady increases in Medicaid caseload. A higher proportion of the program is expected to be covered by federal funds rather than state General Revenue Funds. Full funding for anticipated increases in cost due to inflation, higher utilization, or increased acuity is not included. And the 2018-19 biennium has a funding hole to backfill to complete 2019 expenditures.

As expected from discussions during the interim, the bill also calls for increases from multiple funding sources for education and Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. 

In the meantime, bills continue to be filed in advance of the March 8 filing deadline. The current count is nearly 1,200 bills filed. TMA is monitoring 265 of them.

New legislative sessions mean office relocations for many senators and representatives; find your lawmakers’ offices on this list.

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK REDUX

While the legislature continues organizing and naming committees, and before we ask you to participate in TMA’s grassroots advocacy efforts, here’s a quick refresher on how a bill becomes a law in Texas

ARE YOU A LEGISLATIVE JUNKIE?

If talk of bills and committees and backroom deals initiate tachycardia, you might want to join TMA Leading Advocates. It’s the Texas Medical Association's exclusive Facebook group for legislative advocacy. Enjoy special features, news in advance, and a community of TMA members who are excited to talk about the Texas Legislature and medicine's advocacy priorities. This closed group is open only to TMA and TMA Alliance members, and TMA and county medical society staff. Join today.

TAKE ACTION

The Texas Medical Association's 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas. 

Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health. 

For more details, see “On Call at the Capitol” in the January issue of Texas Medicine

TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help:  

  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol;
  • Testify before a House or Senate committee;
  • Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
  • When called to do so, respond to Action Alerts on specific bills; and/or
  • Make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests. TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session. 

PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY 

Physician of the Day is a service the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) provides the Texas Legislature. Each day the legislators are in session, the group names a physician to serve in the Capitol. This tradition started in 1971 and has continued every legislative session since, including special sessions. This program is organized by TAFP with support from TMA and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Physician of the Day is introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives each day, and his or her name becomes a permanent part of the official legislative record.

Today’s physician of the day is DeVry Anderson, MD, of Austin. Dr. Anderson graduated from Jefferson Medical College and is a member of the Travis County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING

Medicaid, opioids, and abortion: Health care issues to expect this Texas legislative sessionThe Texas Tribune

Trump Administration Plans Effort to Let States Remodel MedicaidThe Wall Street Journal 

New UT psychiatric hospital will be specially designed for longer-term patientsHouston Chronicle

Many Teens’ Suicidal Thoughts Go Undetected by ParentsMedPage Today

Opioid overdoses now deadlier than car crashes, researchers find The Hill

The flu has sickened about 7 million in the U.S. so far, CDC estimatesThe Washington Post

Uninsured Texans must cobble together health care and it’s little wonder when people end up in the ER [Opinion – Commentary]The Dallas Morning News

Hospitals’ Solution to Surprise Out-Of-Network Bills: Make Physicians Go In-NetworkModern Healthcare

Studies of Alzheimer’s and brain diseases vital for Texas [Opinion – Op Ed]San Antonio Express-News

 

Video Recap: The First Week of the 86th Texas Legislature

(Budget, Medicaid, Public Health) Permanent link

The first week of the 86th session of the Texas Legislature is in the books. Lawmakers in the Senate and House convened Tuesday to begin what promises to be a busy session dominated by the budget, school finance, and property taxes. Medicine has a long list of priorities for legislators as well.

This week’s Texas Medical Association Legislative Hotline video features TMA Vice President of Advocacy Darren Whitehurst detailing parts of our legislative wish list, starting with the budget and better Medicaid funding.

 

Mr. Whitehurst also details TMA’s support for graduate medical education, as well as the need for health insurance improvements.   

We also hear about new House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) and the family of medicine members of the Senate and House.

Both chambers have adjourned until Tuesday, when the governor and lieutenant governor will be inaugurated during a day of festivities.

For more legislative news, check out TMA’s website

Also, make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests, and TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session.  

 

Getting Right to Work: Canvassing Votes and Setting Rules — Hotline Jan. 10

(TAKE ACTION NOW, Public Health) Permanent link

abortion_blog

UNDER THE ROTUNDA

The House and Senate convened a joint session today to canvass the votes from the November general election for governor and lieutenant governor. All members are now officially elected to office, save for the three vacant House seats that will be filled in by special elections over the next 35 days.

The operating rules both chambers adopted yesterday established standing committees and the number of members per committee. Committee member assignments are still in the works.

While no significant, substantive rule changes occurred, the House debated several issues that could resurface as legislation later this session, such as expanding the opportunities for constituents to participate in the deliberative process, and streamlining discussions on parliamentary points of order to keep bills moving through the process. Many bills die each year because time simply runs out in the 140-day session.

Both chambers adjourned until Tuesday, when the governor and lieutenant governor will be inaugurated during a day of festivities.

New legislative sessions mean office relocations for many senators and representatives; find your lawmakers’ offices on this list.

TAKE ACTION

The Texas Medical Association's 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas. 

Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health. 

For more details, see “On Call at the Capitol” in the January issue of Texas Medicine

TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help:  

 

  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol;
  • Testify before a House or Senate committee;
  • Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
  • When called to do so, respond to Action Alerts on specific bills; and/or
  • Make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests. TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session. 

 

PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY 

Physician of the Day is a service the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) provides the Texas Legislature. Each day the legislators are in session, the group names a physician to serve in the Capitol. This tradition started in 1971 and has continued every legislative session since, including special sessions. This program is organized by TAFP with support from TMA and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Physician of the Day is introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives each day, and his or her name becomes a permanent part of the official legislative record.

Today’s physician of the day is T. David Greer, MD, of Henrietta. Dr. Greer graduated from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and is a member of TMA and the Wichita County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING 

Former Texas HHSC executive commissioner named acting director for Center for Medicaid and CHIP ServicesThe Texas Tribune

US Cancer Death Rate Hits Milestone: 25 Years of DeclineThe Associated Press

Texas hospitals adapt existing technology to tackle opioid crisisHouston Chronicle

Texas governor weighs in on push to remove Muslim from Tarrant GOP post Fort Worth Star-Telegram


Jan. 9, 2019: Rep. Dennis Bonnen Elected Texas House Speaker

(TAKE ACTION NOW, Public Health) Permanent link

vote story
And they’re off.

With much opening-day fanfare, the 86th Texas Legislature convened at noon yesterday and quickly got to work.

After heartfelt, bipartisan nominating speeches, the Texas House unanimously elected Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) as speaker. With his typical humor and candor, Speaker Bonnen eagerly accepted the honor and the challenge. In his remarks, he stressed the importance of fostering collaboration and working together to find solutions to the problems that face the state, and leaving the “House and our state better than we found it.”

Led by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) in the absence of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the Texas Senate selected Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) as its president pro tempore. The position puts him third in line as acting governor if both Gov. Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick are out of the state.

Today, members of both chambers established the rules to guide them through the session. While we don’t expect many substantive changes, we do eagerly await the naming of House and Senate committee members. Senate committees are expected to be determined within the next week. Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown) no longer wants to chair the Health and Human Services Committee, so a new face will lead that committee. The House will take longer to sort out as the new speaker considers the preferences of his 149 colleagues, but we expect committees to be named within a couple of weeks.

New legislative sessions mean office relocations for many senators and representatives; find your lawmakers’ offices on this list.

TAKE ACTION

The Texas Medical Association's 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas. 

Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health. 

For more details, see “On Call at the Capitol” in the January issue of Texas Medicine

TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help: 

  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol;
  • Testify before a House or Senate committee;
  • Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
  • When called to do so, respond to Action Alerts on specific bills; and/or
  • Make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests, and TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session.

PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY 

Physician of the Day is a service the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) provides the Texas legislature. Each day the legislators are in session, the group names a physician to serve in the Capitol. This tradition started in 1971 and has continued every legislative session since, including special sessions. This program is organized by TAFP with support from TMA and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Physician of the Day is introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives each day, and his or her name becomes a permanent part of the official legislative record.

Today’s physician of the day at the Capitol is Manojkumar Dobariya, MD, of Coppell. Dr. Dobariya graduated from BJ Medical College Gujarat University in India and is a member of TMA and the Dallas County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING

Texas Legislature to convene with a list of big issues to tackle San Marcos Daily Record 

Two Years Ago, The Texas Legislature Started With a Bang. This Year, It’s QuieterThe Texas Tribune

Texas House leader-to-be Dennis Bonnen is aggressive, colorful – and has a lot of different people to pleaseThe Dallas Morning News

How to stop teen vaping? Make e-cigarettes harder to getNBC News

A Virus Even More Dangerous Than Zika to Pregnant WomenThe New York Times


Jan. 8, 2019: 86th Legislature Kicks Off Today

(Budget, Public Health) Permanent link

HHSC_grants

UNDER THE ROTUNDA

Let the fun begin. 

The 86th Texas Legislature convened at noon today. By the time you read this, House members likely will have selected veteran Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) to serve as House speaker. Representative Bonnen replaces Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), who had been speaker since 2009 and who retired last year.  

Once again, the Texas House of Representatives has a large freshman class. Twenty-nine of the 150 House members are first-time members. One of note is Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Addison), whose wife is a physician and Texas Medical Association member. Returning TMA physician members Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress), Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond), Rep. Greg Bonnen, MD (R-Friendswood)  the new speaker’s brother — and Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville), will lead on health care in the House. 

Republicans had a net loss of 12 seats, resulting in a partisan split in the House of 83 Republicans and 64 Democrats. Three Democrat-held seats are currently open and will be filled by special election this month.

Likewise, the Senate added several freshman members this session, two of whom previously served in the Texas House. 

New senators include Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston), who moves over from the House; and Sens. Angela Paxton (R-McKinney), Beverly Powell (D-Fort Worth), Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas), Pat Fallon (R-Frisco), who also moves over from the House; and Pete Flores (R-San Antonio). 

TMA member physicians Sens. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway), Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), and Donna Campbell, MD (R-New Braunfels) will lead on health care issues in the Senate. Republicans continue to hold a 19-12 majority in the Senate. 

All legislators are settled into their offices in the Capitol or Capitol Extension. Find your lawmakers’ offices on this list.

BILL UPDATE

Lawmakers have been busy filing bills since the Monday after the election. So far, senators and representatives have filed close to 1,000 bills, fewer than at this point last session, and a fraction of the anticipated 7,500-plus bills to be filed before the bill filing deadline of March 8. 

The house of medicine is already tracking 224 of them, so the weeks ahead will be busy, and we will ask you to participate by contacting your legislators in support of or opposition to bills. Stay tuned.

BUDGET 

No bill will be more important to pass than the state’s budget, which is the only “must-do” task on lawmakers’ list. 

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar released his official biennial revenue estimate yesterday, reporting that legislators will have $119.1 billion in state general revenue funds to work with in crafting the next two-year budget. That’s an 8.1-percent increase from his estimate ahead of last session. Even with projected revenues higher than last session, expect much discussion about where to trim and where to enhance the budget.

 

 TAKE ACTION

TMA’s 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas. 

Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health. 

For more details, see “On Call at the Capitol” in the January issue of Texas Medicine.  

TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help:  

  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol;
  • Testify before a House or Senate committee;
  • Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
  • When called to do so, respond to Action Alerts on specific bills; and/or
  • Make sure you receive  TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests, and TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session.  

PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY

 Physician of the Day is a service the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) provides to the Texas legislature. Each day lawmakers are in session, the group names a physician to serve in the Capitol. This tradition started in 1971 and has continued every legislative session since, including special sessions. This program is organized by TAFP with support from TMA and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Physician of the Day is introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives each day, and his or her name becomes a permanent part of the official legislative record.

Today’s physician of the day at the Capitol is Rebecca Hart, MD, of League City. Dr. Hart graduated from UT Southwestern Medical School and is a member of the Galveston County Medical Society.