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.

Feb. 28 Hotline: Testimony Focuses On Mental Health, Prescriptive Authority

(Public Health) Permanent link

abortion_blog

 UNDER THE ROTUNDA
Yesterday, the House Public Health Committee heard testimony on two bills the Texas Medical Association is following closely.

The first was House Bill 10 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), the committee chair. That bill would create the Texas Behavioral Health Research Institute (TBHRI), award grants to increase the number of psychiatric residency positions, and create a child and adolescent psychiatric nursing grant program.

During impassioned testimony in support of HB 10, San Antonio pediatrician Uchenna Umeh, MD, told lawmakers about some of her young patients who struggled with mental illness but whose families were unfamiliar with treatment options and opportunities, with tragic results.

“My experiences led me to focus my career on doing all that I can to educate young people about mental health and suicide,” Dr. Umeh said.

The second bill was House Bill 278 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress). That bill outlines how physicians supervise prescriptive authority agreements with advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). It was met with measured testimony, thoughtful questions, and no opposition, which is uncommon for scope-of-practice bills. TMA supports this bill.

The House and Senate will return Monday afternoon.

Nearly eight full weeks into session – and just more than one week before the bill filing deadline – more than 4,000 bills have been filed. TMA is monitoring more than 850 of them – in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed.

BILLS OF NOTE

This list will change frequently during the session, but here are some bills TMA is watching now. Keep an eye on your email inbox for Action Alerts as we work to pass or kill bills. 

  • House Bill 927 by Rep. James White (R-Hillister) would grant APRNs independent practice authority in Health Professional Shortage Areas. TMA opposes this bill. 
  • House Bill 1879 by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place) would require auto-enrolling women who lose Medicaid or CHIP perinatal coverage into the Healthy Texas Women program. TMA strongly supports this bill. 
  • House Bill 2085 by Rep. Jay Dean (R-Longview) would allow adults, parents, and guardians to sign a legal form prohibiting doctors or hospitals from administering or prescribing opioids. TMA supports this bill. 
  • Senate Bill 998 by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) would increase the physician education loan repayment program’s allowable repayment assistance amounts by $5,000 each year, bringing the total amount of repayment assistance available to $180,000. House Bill 2261 by Rep. Armando Walle (D-Houston) is the companion bill. TMA supports these bills.  

HEALTHY VISION 2025

Healthy Vision 2025 — released late last month — is TMA’s all-inclusive, health care roadmap for legislators. 

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

TODAY’S GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY TIP

When you secure a meeting with a legislator, it may seem tempting to make the most of your limited time with him or her and pack as many topics as possible into the conversation. The best practice is to stick to one issue and explore it in depth, whether you connect by telephone, letter, or email. Address additional issues in subsequent communications. Get more tips in our Grassroots Advocacy Guide.

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.

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:

  • Tell your senator and representative why you oppose independent practice for APRNs.
  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol – the next one is 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.

WHAT WE’RE READING

‘We hear you’: Lawmakers promise to fix Texas’ broken Medicaid managed-care system – The Dallas Morning News

Douglas W. Curran, MD: Let’s press real health-care solutions in the Texas Legislature – The Waco Tribune

Should Texas Increase the Legal Smoking Age to 21? – KXAS-TV

Gary Floyd, MD, guest columnist: Why can’t Texas legislature see the danger in allowing eye surgery without this? Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FDA Plans Multifaceted Response to Opioid-Abuse Epidemic – Wall Street Journal

Most North Texas Hospital Systems Are Clearing More Than 10 Percent in Yearly Profits – D CEO Healthcare

Should Texas require hands-free cell phone use while driving? Time to tell your lawmakers – Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Feb. 27 Hotline: Physicians Urge State to Put $500 Million More Into Medicaid

(Budget, Health Insurance, Medicaid, Public Health) Permanent link

Capitol_Dome

BUDGET UPDATE
Yesterday, the Texas Medical Association urged state budget writers to invest $500 million of general revenue in Medicaid to improve access to care in Texas. 

In a fact sheet sent to the House subcommittee considering health and human services in the state’s 2020-21 budget, TMA reminded legislators that fee-for-service rates have not received a sustained, meaningful increase in decades, contributing to higher health care costs for all Texans and a shortage of physicians who will accept Medicaid patients. 

“Medicaid is the lowest payer in Texas, paying 40 percent to 70 percent of the Medicare physician fee schedule for office-based services,” the fact sheet said. “Physician payments also are not indexed to inflation, meaning that each year Texas fails to increase payments, the farther Medicaid payments fall behind commercial payers and Medicare.” 

One of TMA’s primary requests is 12 months’ coverage for postpartum women, providing more consistent and continuous coverage that will help improve the maternal mortality and morbidity rate in Texas. Medicaid coverage currently ends 60 days postpartum. 

TMA also called on lawmakers to: 

  • Devote higher Medicaid payments for cost-saving collaborations between physicians and Medicaid managed care organizations; and
  • Direct the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to convene a Physician-Payment Advisory Committee to advise the agency on how best to distribute funds to physicians in other high-need places, including rural areas and the border. 

The subcommittee, which is chaired by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), will continue deliberations this week.

UNDER THE ROTUNDA
Yesterday, the House Public Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), heard deeply personal and heartfelt testimony regarding a committee substitute to House Bill 76, which would require schools to provide information on electrocardiogram (EKG) testing for student athletes. Unsuccessful proposals in years past would have made preparticipation EKGs mandatory.

HB 76 also would require any EKGs that are done to be administered and evaluated by an individual whose scope of practice legally allows him or her to do the testing. TMA thanks Representative Huberty for his collaboration on this bill.

Today, the House Higher Education Committee heard testimony on House Bill 80 by Rep. Lina Ortega (D-El Paso), calling on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to conduct a study and develop an inventory of existing doctoral-level health science education programs. Under the bill, the THECB would then issue a report to the legislature with recommendations for establishing new and for expanding existing programs.

And the House Public Health Committee heard House Bill 278 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress) regarding how physicians supervise prescriptive authority agreements with advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). TMA supports this bill. HB 278 is the first of more than 36 scope-of-practice bills to be heard this session. In yesterday’s Hotline, we incorrectly reported that the bill applies to physician assistants (PAs). The changes that HB 278 makes for supervising APRNs were made for PAs in a law that passed in 2017. The committee was still meeting at press time, so look for an update in tomorrow’s Legislative Hotline.

The House and Senate adjourned until Monday.

More than seven weeks into session — and nine short days before the filing deadline — more than 3,830 bills have been filed. TMA is monitoring more than 800 of them — in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Fewer than 90 days remain in this legislative session.

BILLS OF NOTE

This list will change frequently during the session, but here are some bills TMA is watching now. Keep an eye on your email inbox for Action Alerts as we work to pass or kill bills. 

  • House Bill 448 by Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) would require transporting a child younger than 2 years of age in a rear-facing car seat unless the child meets certain height and weight thresholds. TMA supports this bill. 
  • House Bill 2327 by Rep. Greg Bonnen, MD (R-Friendswood) would require health plans to inform physicians ahead of time what procedures require prior authorization and what that process is. Importantly, the bill also requires coverage without prior authorization of procedures that are identified as routine. TMA strongly supports this bill. 
  • House Bill 2408 by Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Carrollton) would require health plans to cover without prior authorization procedures that have state mandated coverage, such as mammograms, prostate exams, and diabetes equipment and supplies. TMA supports this bill. 
  • Senate Bill 340 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would create a grant program to fund law enforcement’s access to opioid antagonists. TMA supports this bill.  

HEALTHY VISION 2025

Healthy Vision 2025 — released late last month — is TMA’s all-inclusive, health care roadmap for legislators. 

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

TODAY’S GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY TIP

When you secure a meeting with a legislator, it may seem tempting to make the most of your limited time with him or her and pack as many topics as possible into the conversation. The best practice is to stick to one issue and explore it in depth, whether you connect by telephone, letter, or email. Address additional issues in subsequent communications. Get more tips in our Grassroots Advocacy Guide.

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.

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:

  • Tell your senator and representative why you oppose independent practice for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).
  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol – the next one is 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.

Today’s physician of the day is Paul Berg, MD, of Georgetown. Dr. Berg graduated from the UTHealth San Antonio Long School of Medicine and is a member of both the Texas Medical Association and the Williamson County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING
Congress Squares Off With Pharma CEOs In Showdown Over High Drug Prices – Kaiser Health News

Texas hospital owner convicted in $20M healthcare fraud scheme – Becker’s Hospital Review

Dell Medical School, Dell Seton care team forges innovative path toward opioid recovery – Austin American-Statesman

Paramedic House Calls Help Chronically Ill Patients – The Dallas Morning News

Five Possible Reasons the Baylor Scott and White Merger Didn’t Happen – D CEO Healthcare

Amid Measles Outbreak, Texas Lawmakers Want to Make it Even Easier to Opt Out of Vaccines – Texas Observer

Feb. 26 hotline: House and Senate Are Full Speed Ahead

(Budget, Public Health, Scope of Practice) Permanent link

HHSC_grants
 BUDGET UPDATE

The House subcommittee considering health and human services in the state’s 2020-21 budget met today to consider testimony, facts, figures, and needs that organizations like the Texas Medical Association and state agencies have detailed this session. 

The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), was still meeting at press time. Look for an update in tomorrow’s TMA Legislative Hotline.

UNDER THE ROTUNDA
The House Public Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), heard testimony today on House Bill 76, which would require cardiac assessments of high school student athletes.

TMA has opposed similar measures in previous sessions that would have required preparticipation electrocardiograms (EKGs) for all school student athletes, a test that not every student athlete needs and one that could result in false positives.

This year, Representative Huberty has worked closely with TMA and other stakeholders to substantially improve the bill.

The committee is expected to consider a substitute bill that requires schools to provide information on EKG testing instead of making the testing mandatory. It also would require EKGs to be administered and evaluated by an individual whose scope of practice legally allows them to do the testing.

In a busy hearing, other bills were heard on school-based mental health professionals and training requirements for school leadership to recognize sexual abuse and human trafficking.

We will continue to monitor the committee’s progress and report back to members.

Tomorrow, the House Higher Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) is scheduled to receive testimony on House Bill 80 by Rep. Lina Ortega (D-El Paso).

HB 80 calls on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to conduct a study and develop an inventory of existing doctoral-level health science education programs. The THECB would then issue recommendations for establishing new programs and for expanding existing ones in a report to be submitted to the legislature.

And the House Public Health Committee will hear House Bill 278 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress) regarding how physicians supervise prescriptive authority agreements with physician assistants. TMA supports this bill. HB 278 is the first of more than three dozen scope-of-practice bills to be heard this session.

TMA will be listening closely. We will keep you alerted to opportunities to participate in grassroots advocacy efforts.

More than seven weeks into session — and 10 short days before the filing deadline — more than 3,600 bills have been filed. TMA is monitoring almost 900 of them — in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Ninety days remain in this legislative session.

BILLS OF NOTE

This list will change frequently during the session, but here are some bills TMA is watching now. Keep an eye on your email inbox for Action Alerts as we work to pass or kill bills. 

  • House Bill 1880 by Representative Davis would establish time limits for corrections and updates to be made to online insurer network directories. TMA supports this bill. 
  • House Bill 2041 by Representative Oliverson would require free-standing emergency room facilities to post conspicuous notices that they might be out-of-network, along with written disclosure of what observation and facility fees could result from a patient’s visit. TMA supports this bill. 
  • House Bill 1798 by Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) would permit therapeutic optometrists to perform eye surgery and give the Texas Optometry Board sole authority to regulate these practices, instead of the Texas Medical Board. TMA opposes this bill. 
  • House Bill 455 by Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) would direct the State Board of Education to develop policies on student recess, encouraging physical activity. TMA supports this bill. 

HEALTHY VISION 2025

Healthy Vision 2025 — released late last month — is TMA’s all-inclusive, health care roadmap for legislators.

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

TODAY’S GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY TIP

When you secure a meeting with a legislator, it may seem tempting to make the most of your limited time with him or her and pack as many topics as possible into the conversation. The best practice is to stick to one issue and explore it in depth, whether you connect by telephone, letter, or email. Address additional issues in subsequent communications. Get more tips in our Grassroots Advocacy Guide.

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.

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:

  • Tell your senator and representative why you oppose independent practice for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).
  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol – there are three left;
  • 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.

Today’s physician of the day is Eric Alford, MD, of Brenham. Dr. Alford graduated from the Texas A&M College of Medicine and is a member of the Washington-Burleson County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING 

‘Pain & Profit’ investigation spurs sweeping bipartisan fix for Texas’ Medicaid managed-care mess – The Dallas Morning News

State of Texas: Lawmakers continue focus on maternal deaths – KXAN-TV

Hospitals test ways to address social needs – Modern Healthcare

Commentary: Seizing the opportunity to transform our state hospitals – Austin American-Statesman

West Dallas medical training program gives young adults seeking second chance a shot – The Dallas Morning News

Texas senator files bill aimed at addressing Alzheimer’s awareness, care – KVUE-TV

As Austin district weighs new sex ed curriculum, bills surface – Austin-American Statesman

Hotline Video: TMA Leader Calls For More GME Funds

(Budget, Public Health) Permanent link

In the Capitol this week, Lubbock internist Cynthia Jumper, MD, urged budget-writing lawmakers to adequately fund graduate medical education so Texas won’t lose ground in physicians per capita. 

This week’s Texas Medical Association Legislative News Hotline video shares several points that Dr. Jumper, a TMA Council on Legislation member, told the House Appropriations Committee on Article III, which covers education. 

Our cameras also take you along for a TMA First Tuesdays at the Capitol lobby day, tracing the steps of a Corpus Christi pediatrician and a TMA Alliance leader as they visit lawmakers in their legislative offices. 

Click below to watch this week’s video.

 

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.

Feb. 21 Hotline: TMA Backs School Mental Health Funds

(Budget, Health Insurance, Public Health) Permanent link

abortion_blog

BUDGET UPDATE
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III (which covers education) met yesterday, giving TMA the chance to submit testimony supporting the Texas Education Agency’s Safe and Healthy Schools Initiative, known as Rider 74.

Rider 74 would appropriate $37 million to equip Texas public schools with the resources needed to improve student mental health.

“Given that children spend roughly one-third of each week day of the school year in school, schools are key allies in promoting student mental health,” according to the Texas Medical Association’s statement.

We anticipate Senate Finance subcommittee assignments will be made soon, allowing the Senate to examine funding requests at a more granular level.

UNDER THE ROTUNDA
The House Public Health Committee, chaired by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), held its initial hearing yesterday. While initial hearings are customarily organizational, Representative Thompson also elected to receive testimony from several health care-related entities. TMA will follow the activities in this committee closely – stay tuned for opportunities to participate in grassroots advocacy efforts.

The Senate adjourned until Monday afternoon.

More than six weeks into session — and two and a half weeks before the filing deadline — more than 3,100 bills have been filed. TMA is monitoring almost 700 of them — in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Fewer than 100 days remain in this legislative session.

BILLS OF NOTE

This list will change frequently during the session, but here are some bills TMA is watching now. Keep an eye on your email inbox for Action Alerts as we work to pass or kill bills. 

  • House Bill 1256 by Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) would allow first responders to access and view their immunization records during a disaster so they can take necessary precautions and not delay assisting in a disaster zone due to unknown vaccination status. 
  • House Bill 1622 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress) would permit in-office physician dispensing of non-controlled medications. 
  • House Bill 1361 by Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston) would permit long-term care facilities to create a tracking system for de-identified employee and resident immunization rates. House Bill 1423 by Rep. Bobby Guerra is identical. 
  • Senate Bill 830 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would require emergency response entities to develop a policy specifying which immunizations are required for first responders. Exemptions are permitted. Contrary to what some critics have claimed, this bill does not mandate any immunizations for first responders. 

TMA supports each of these bills. 

HEALTHY VISION 2025

Healthy Vision 2025 — released late last month — is TMA’s all-inclusive, health care roadmap for legislators.

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

TODAY’S GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY TIP

When you secure a meeting with a legislator, it may seem tempting to make the most of your limited time with him or her and pack as many topics as possible into the conversation. The best practice is to stick to one issue and explore it in depth, whether you connect by telephone, letter, or email. Address additional issues in subsequent communications. Get more tips in our Grassroots Advocacy Guide.

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.

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:

  • Tell your senator and representative why you oppose independent practice for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).
  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol – there are three left;
  • 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.

Today’s physician of the day is Mark Malone, MD, of Gilmer. Dr. Malone graduated from the Texas A&M College of Medicine and is a member of the Harrison County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING
‘Alarming’ number of people received restricted fentanyl, study says – CNN

FDA slams medical procedure. Now, local company hits pause – Houston Chronicle

Harris County ranked No. 1 for highest STD cases, state report says – KTRK-TV

Mothers Erased – KXAN-TV

Behind the Scenes, Health Insurers Use Cash and Gifts to Sway Which Benefits Employers Choose – ProPublica, NPR

A New Old Model That Could Change How Employees Receive Primary Care – D CEO Healthcare

Feb. 20 Hotline: Legislators Urged to Fund Treatment and Prevention of Mental Health Issues

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

state-capitol

BUDGET UPDATE
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article II (which covers health and human services) continues to have a full calendar and heard several hours of public testimony yesterday.

One of the speakers was Austin psychiatrist James Halgrimson, DO, who urged the legislature to increase funding for services for Texans living with mental health and substance use disorders. He pointed out that only 12 percent of people who need specialty alcohol and drug-use treatment receive it.

He also said expanding access to community mental health services, including increasing outpatient treatment capacity and reducing waitlists, can help expedite treatment.

“The longer a person remains on a waitlist for community-based care, the less likely they are to receive an appropriate intervention,” Dr. Halgrimson told the budget writers. And “if a crisis occurs during that waiting period, a person whose condition could have been effectively managed in the community may instead present at a hospital or jail.”

Rachael Keefe, MD, testified on behalf of TMA and the Texas Pediatric Society about the need to fund programs that support children in foster care in order to keep families together.

Dr. Keefe shared the story of a new mother with untreated postpartum depression whose infant died, causing her other children to be placed in foster care.

“I cannot help but think how the outcome would have been different if this mother had received the mental health or in-home parenting supports” she needed, Dr. Keefe said.

UNDER THE ROTUNDA
In the House Public Education Committee, TMA submitted written testimony in support of House Bill 111 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D-Clint).

HB 111 would provide additional tools to school employees to prevent sexual abuse and maltreatment of children with cognitive disabilities. Those children are at least three times more likely to experience some form of abuse than children without special needs, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Children’s Bureau.

More than six weeks into session — and two and a half weeks before the filing deadline — nearly 3,000 bills have been filed. TMA is monitoring almost 700 of them — in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Fewer than 100 days remain in this legislative session.

BILLS OF NOTE

This list will change frequently during the session, but here are some bills the Texas Medical Association is watching now. Keep an eye on your email inbox for Action Alerts as we work to pass or kill bills. 

  • House Bill 1792 by Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) would grant full practice authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. TMA strongly opposes this bill. 
  • House Bill 1353 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress) would protect health care providers from civil liability for assistance provided in disaster situations. Senate Bill 752 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) is identical. 
  • House Bill 765 by Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston) would index the liability caps established by the 2003 tort reform bill. TMA opposes this bill. 
  • House Bill 25 by Representative Gonzalez would require Medicaid to reimburse the transportation costs for a child younger than 13 to accompany a mother to a pregnancy-related medical appointment. TMA strongly supports this bill. 

HEALTHY VISION 2025

Healthy Vision 2025 — released late last month — is TMA’s all-inclusive, health care roadmap for legislators.

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

TODAY’S GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY TIP

Nothing drives home the importance of an issue like a personal story. When calling or writing your legislators, tell them specifically how the issue affects you, your colleagues, and patients. (Students can offer credible anecdotes from their own medical school experiences.) This is the best way to persuade lawmakers that what may seem like an abstract or arcane point really affects their constituents deeply. Get more tips in our Grassroots Advocacy Guide

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.

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:

  • Tell your senator and representative why you oppose independent practice for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). 
  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol – there are three left;
  • 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.

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 both the Texas Medical Association and the Wichita County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING
Mediation program in Texas helps patients fight surprise medical bills – CBS News

Corpus Christi nurse practitioner pushes for change – KIII-TV

Editorial: Health Care must be a priority in Texas legislative agenda – Longview-News Journal

Supply of primary care doctors linked with mortality rates – Reuters

Local doctors respond to ‘vaccine hesitancy’ – KRIS-TV

The largest mental-health facility in Texas shouldn’t be a jail [Opinion – Editorial] – The Dallas Morning News  

Hotline Video Recap: TMA President Calls For Insurance Expansion

(Budget, Public Health) Permanent link

Texas Medical Association President Doug Curran, MD, makes an impassioned pitch for broader coverage for Texas’ millions of uninsured people in this week’s TMA Legislative News Hotline video.

Also this week, Austin psychiatrist Thomas Kim, MD, a member of TMA’s Council on Legislation, argues why investing in public health would pay off for our future.

Finally, with more than 3,000 bills filed this session, hear which health care-related measure already passed out of a Senate committee.

Click below to watch this week’s video.

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.

TMA Hotline Feb. 14: Push To Raise Tobacco Sales Age to Get Senate Boost

(Public Health) Permanent link

Tobacco_Under_21

 UNDER THE ROTUNDA
Medicine received good news Wednesday that Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) will refile a bill that would raise the tobacco sale age to 21. Refiling might not sound like much, but this is a very good indication of the bill’s likelihood of success in the Senate.

The measure already had been filed this session as Senate Bill 338, but Senator Huffman will refile it as SB 21, indicating that Senate leadership supports the measure. (Lower bill numbers are reserved for higher-priority issues.) Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond) filed a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

SB 21 would include vaping, which the surgeon general has declared an epidemic among American youth.

During the 2017 session, Representative Zerwas filed a similar “Tobacco 21” bill that made it out of the House Committee on Public Health but never advanced to a floor vote.

San Antonio last year became the first city in Texas to prohibit the sale of tobacco products within the city limits to anyone younger than 21, instead of age 18.

Otherwise, activity in the Capitol was mostly light today, with the House and Senate both adjourned until next Tuesday.

More than one month into session — and three weeks before the filing deadline — more than 2,700 bills have been filed. TMA is monitoring almost 600 of them — in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed.

BILLS OF NOTE

This list will change frequently during the session, but here are some bills the Texas Medical Association is watching now. Keep an eye on your email inbox for Action Alerts as we work to pass or kill bills. 

  • House Bill 29 by Rep. Ina Minjarez (D-San Antonio) would grant direct access to physical therapists without a diagnosis by a physician. TMA opposes this bill. 
  • House Bill 460 by Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) would permit physician dispensing of medication. 
  • House Bill 1504 by Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) and Senate Bill 610 by Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) relate to the continuation of the Texas Medical Board (TMB). This is the TMB Sunset Bill. 
  • Senate Bill 268 by Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) would grant prescriptive authority to psychologists. TMA opposes this bill. 

 HEALTHY VISION 2025

Healthy Vision 2025 – released late last month – is TMA’s all-inclusive, health care roadmap for legislators.

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

TODAY’S GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY TIP

Nothing drives home the importance of an issue like a personal story. When calling or writing your legislators, tell them specifically how the issue affects you, your colleagues, and patients. (Students can offer credible anecdotes from their own medical school experiences.) This is the best way to persuade lawmakers that what may seem like an abstract or arcane point really affects their constituents deeply. Get more tips in our Grassroots Advocacy Guide.

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.

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 – there are three left;
  • 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.

Today’s physician of the day is Dakeya Jordan, DO, of Benbrook. Dr. Jordan graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and is a member of the Tarrant County Medical Society.

 WHAT WE’RE READING 

Texans Who Get Surprise Medical Bills Are Often On Their Own. Groups Ask Lawmakers To Step In. – KUT

Emergency mental health bill advances in Texas Senate – Austin American-Statesman

Depression During and After Pregnancy Can Be Prevented, National Panel Says. Here’s How. – The New York Times

Younger U.S. consumers more dissatisfied with traditional healthcare – Modern Healthcare

Advocacy group calls for tougher state laws requiring vaccines – KTRK-TV

How Much Money Are North Texas Health Plans Making? – D CEO Healthcare

Health plans don’t want patients on opioids. So what are they doing for pain? – Politico

TMA Hotline Feb. 13: Committee Meetings Commence

(Budget, Public Health) Permanent link

Capitol_Dome

UNDER THE ROTUNDA
With House bills now being referred to committees, the pace of activity is rapidly accelerating.

Yesterday, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, the House Human Services Committee, and the House Insurance Committee held their kickoff hearings, which are traditionally organizational in nature.

However, Senate Health and Human Services got right down to business, hearing testimony on Senate Bill 10 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), which will create the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium. Senator Nelson said her bill focuses on identifying at-risk youth and helping them before they become a danger to themselves or others. She repeatedly mentioned the Santa Fe school shooting last year.

“It’s horrifying to me that children in our schools need to worry about things like that,” she said.

The committee unanimously approved the bill, which will next get a reading and hearing on the Senate floor.

Additionally, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article II (which covers health and human services) continued to hear public testimony, including from two TMA members:

  • James Lukefahr, MD, a pediatrician from San Antonio, asked the legislature to increase funding for two Department of State Health Services (DSHS) programs that address and prevent child abuse, neglect, and fatality.
  • Thomas Kim, MD, an Austin psychiatrist and member of the TMA Council on Legislation, urged legislators to fully fund DSHS and especially to safeguard the State Public Health Laboratory, highlighting its importance of testing highly contagious diseases, such as mumps and measles cases that are spreading across Texas.
  • The Texas Medical Association and the Texas Pediatric Society submitted written testimony encouraging full funding of the Department of Family and Protective Services’ prevention and early intervention programs.

The Texas Immunization Partnership (TIP), with whom TMA collaborates, delivered alarming statistics on deaths and the costs associated with inadequate vaccinate rates. Rekha Lakshmanan, TIP’s director of advocacy and public policy, implored the subcommittee to fund a robust vaccination program in Texas. Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place) thanked Ms. Lakshmanan for TIP’s “continued science-based voice on vaccine advocacy.”

Today, TMA submitted written testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article I (general government) urging the legislature to allocate all available appropriated funds for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and to make provisions for CPRIT’s continued funding and grant-making ability.

Senator Nelson and Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond) have authored bills in their respective chambers that would increase the maximum bond amount authorized for CPRIT and remove time limitations on CPRIT grants. 

The House and Senate both adjourned until Tuesday.

Four weeks into session, bill filing is not slowing as the March 8 filing deadline nears. The current count is more than 2,600 bills filed. TMA is monitoring more than 555 of them — in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Just three weeks remain for bills to be filed.

BILLS OF NOTE

This list will change frequently during the session, but here are some bills we’re watching now. Keep an eye on your email inbox for Action Alerts as we work to pass or kill bills. 

  • House Bill 1256 by Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) would permit verification of first responders’ immunization status during a disaster. 
  • House Bill 1490 by Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) would make immunization exemptions more convenient and prohibit DSHS from tracking exemptions. TMA opposes this bill. 
  • Senate Bill 524 by Sen. Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas) expands access to Medicaid. 
  • Senate Bill 752 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) affords health care worker volunteers liability protection in a disaster. 

HEALTHY VISION 2025

Healthy Vision 2025 — released late last month — is TMA’s all-inclusive, health care roadmap for legislators.

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

TODAY’S GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY TIP

Nothing drives home the importance of an issue like a personal story. When calling or writing your legislators, tell them specifically how the issue affects you, your colleagues, and patients. (Students can offer credible anecdotes from their own medical school experiences.) This is the best way to persuade lawmakers that what may seem like an abstract or arcane point really affects their constituents deeply. Get more tips in our Grassroots Advocacy Guide.

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.

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 – there are three left;
  • 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.

Today’s physician of the day is Bich-May Nguyen, MD, of Houston. Dr. Nguyen graduated from the Baylor College of Medicine and is a member of the Fort Bend County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING
Voters in four states have approved Medicaid expansion by ballot. Will Texas do the same?The Texas Tribune

Coalition of insurance, business and consumer groups want patients protected from surprise bills – Houston Chronicle

Thousands of Texans were shocked by surprise medical bills. Their requests for help overwhelmed the state. – The Texas Tribune

Nearly 1 in 7 US kids and teens has a mental health condition, and half go untreated, study says – CNN

Dallas County Appoints New Health Director – KTVT-TV

Healthcare spending for employer plans hits record – Modern Healthcare

New Rules Could Ease Patients’ Access to Their Own Health Records – The Wall Street Journal

Is a Level 1 Trauma Center in the Future for the Rio Grande Valley – KVEO-TV

ICE Confirms 6 More Cases of Mumps in Houston Area Detention Facilities – Houston Public Media

TMA Hotline: Improve Medicaid Payment to Improve Access and Coverage

(Budget, Public Health) Permanent link

Curran_January_2019

UNDER THE ROTUNDA

The final 2020-21 state budget won’t be decided for some time, but the heavy lifting of asking for funding is well under way. Yesterday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article II (which covers health and human services) heard several hours of testimony, including an impassioned plea by Texas Medical Association President Doug Curran, MD, a family physician from Athens.

Chief among Dr. Curran’s priorities was revitalizing the Medicaid and CHIP physician networks by increasing payments for all primary and specialty care physicians.

Improving Medicaid and CHIP payment rates, which have stagnated for decades, will incentivize more physicians to participate in those networks, which in turn will improve access to care for Texas’ most vulnerable patients. But it won’t be easy, Dr. Curran said.

“Our organizations acknowledge that this is a significant request. At the same time, physicians – key partners in the state’s efforts to constrain Medicaid costs – are at a breaking point,” he testified. “Medicaid payments are the least competitive among all insurers, paying from only 40 to 87 percent of Medicare and 41 to 73 percent of commercial insurance rates.”

Without network participants, a Medicaid card is just something to carry in your wallet. It does not guarantee access to care, Dr. Curran said.

Dr. Curran also urged budget writers to promote better birth outcomes by providing comprehensive health care coverage to low-income women before, during, and after pregnancy.

“We can make dramatic gains in maternal health outcomes, but the legislature must ensure that women have access to preventive, primary, and specialty care before and after pregnancy,” Dr. Curran said in reference to House Bill 1110 by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), which proposes extending Medicaid coverage for postpartum women to 12 months, up from the current two months.

Four weeks into session, bill filing is not slowing as the March 8 filing deadline nears. The current count is almost 2,500 bills filed. TMA is monitoring more than 530 of them – in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Just under 30 days remain for bills to be filed. The House yesterday began referring bills to committee.

BILLS OF NOTE

This list will change frequently during the session, but here are some bills we’re watching now. Keep an eye on your email inbox for Action Alerts as we work to pass or kill bills. 

  • Senate Bill 338/House Bill 749, by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond) respectively, raise the age for sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products to 21. 
  • Senate Bill 329 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), also known as the Parent’s Right to Know bill, grants parents and guardians access to de-identified immunization data for their child’s school. 
  • Senate Bill 310 by Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) permits co-agents on medical powers of attorney. TMA opposes this bill. 
  • Senate Bill 580 by Sen. Donna Campbell, MD (R-New Braunfels) prohibits nonmedical switching of drugs by health plans. 

HEALTHY VISION 2025

Healthy Vision 2025 – released late last month – is TMA’s all-inclusive, health care roadmap for legislators.

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

TODAY’S GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY TIP

Nothing drives home the importance of an issue like a personal story. When calling or writing your legislators, tell them specifically how the issue affects you, your colleagues, and patients. (Students can offer credible anecdotes from their own medical school experiences.) This is the best way to persuade lawmakers that what may seem like an abstract or arcane point really affects their constituents deeply. Get more tips in our Grassroots Advocacy Guide.

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.

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 – there are three left;
  • 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.

Today’s physician of the day is Anuj Sharma, MD, of Austin. Dr. Sharma graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and is a member of the Williamson County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING 

7 mumps cases confirmed at Houston ICE Facility – KHOU-TV

Texas MDs Hopeful Legislature Will Fund Diverse Public Health Initiatives – WOAI Radio

ROBERTS: We need Tobacco 21 Legislation now [Opinion – Op Ed] – The Lufkin Daily News

Measles cases a sign that Texas is risking a public health calamity [Opinion – Editorial] – Houston Chronicle

School Shooters: What’s Their Path To Violence? – NPR

Depression 101: Dallas Schoolkids Learn About Mental Health – The Associated Press

Time to remove Texas’ drug middlemen [Opinion – Op Ed] – San Antonio Express-News

Physicians Push Lawmakers on Medicaid Payment, Coverage

(Budget, Health Insurance, Medicaid, Public Health) Permanent link

Capitol_Dome

UNDER THE ROTUNDA
With the State of the State and the State of the Judiciary now delivered to legislators, the meaty work of specific budgetary and funding requests for 2020-21 is full steam ahead.

Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee heard public testimony on the health and human services portion (Article II) of the draft state budget from several Texas physicians, including:

  • Antonio Falcon, MD, family medicine physician from Rio Grande City, regarding the need for physician Medicaid payment increases;
  • Tom Mueller, MD, family medicine physician from Fayetteville, requesting 12 months continuous Medicaid coverage for pregnant and delivering women;
  • Alexander Kenton, MD, neonatologist from San Antonio, regarding how inadequate Medicaid payment rates limit access to care for vulnerable patients; and
  • Don Murphey, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist from Austin, on the Department of State Health Services’ funding requests.

TMA President Doug Curran, MD, family medicine physician from Athens; and Emily Briggs, MD, family medicine physician from New Braunfels and chair of the Texas Medical Association’s Committee on Reproductive, Women’s and Perinatal Health, submitted written testimony on the desperate need to improve both access to care for working Texans and maternal health outcomes.

Dr. Briggs implored the committee to “pursue federal authority to implement a tailored health benefits program for eligible uninsured women of childbearing age that provides 12 months’ continuous coverage for preventive, primary, and specialty care coverage, including behavioral health services, to women before and after pregnancy.”

The full House Appropriations Committee heard specifics from both the Department of Family and Protective Services and Health and Human Services Commission leadership on funding requests for mental health — one of the governor’s emergency items — and Medicaid and CHIP, respectively, whose budgets are increasing as more Texans enroll in those programs.

The House and Senate will reconvene Monday afternoon.

Three-plus weeks into session, bill filing continues as the March 8 filing deadline nears. The current count is more than 2,230 bills filed. The Texas Medical Association is monitoring more than 450 of them – in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Just over 30 days remain for bills to be filed — the rate of filing likely will accelerate now that committees are set.

HEALTHY VISION 2025

Healthy Vision 2025– released last week – is TMA’s all-inclusive, health care roadmap for legislators.

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

TODAY’S GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY TIP

Nothing drives home the importance of an issue like a personal story. When calling or writing your legislators, tell them specifically how the issue affects you, your colleagues, and patients. (Students can offer credible anecdotes from their own medical school experiences.)This is the best way to persuade lawmakers that what may seem like an abstract or arcane point really affects their constituents deeply. Get more tips in our Grassroots Advocacy Guide.

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.

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 – there are three left;
  • 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.

Today’s physician of the day is Larry Kravitz, MD, of Austin. Dr. Kravitz graduated from George Washington University School of Medicine and is a member of both the Travis County Medical Society and TMA.

 WHAT WE’RE READING 

Texas’ 6 confirmed measles cases include 4 children who were being vaccinated – The Dallas Morning News

Texans Can Appeal Surprise Medical Bills, But The Process Can Be Draining – KUT, NPR

Tobacco use among teens is preventable. Let’s do something about it. [Opinion – Op Ed] – TribTalk

Scooter Madness in Austin Puts Safety Concerns in High Gear – Kaiser Health News

New ruling to come in Texas, Planned Parenthood legal fight – Austin-American Statesman

Baylor and Memorial are breaking up. Here’s why the failed hospital merger may be for the best – The Dallas Morning News

Can the U.S. end the HIV epidemic in a decade, as Trump pledged? – STAT News

States ranked by percent of adults with no personal physician – Becker’s Hospital Review

Abbott Names School Finance, Property Taxes, Mental Health As Emergency Items in State Of The State – KUT

Texas Physicians Push Medicine's Agenda to Lawmakers

(Budget, Public Health) Permanent link

First_Tuesday_Feb
 UNDER THE ROTUNDA

The optimism was bright even if the skies were dark yesterday during the Texas Medical Association’s first of four First Tuesdays at the Capitol. Nearly 200 physician, medical student, and alliance members visited legislative offices to both share and learn information important to medicine this session.

Check out our collection of photos and social media posts from the event.

Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee heard invited testimony on Article II (health and human services) funding; today, public testimony was received. TMA and the Texas Public Health Coalition submitted written comments supporting the Department of State Health Services’ base funding request and specifically referenced several of the moredetailed items, such as data integrity and the state laboratory.

The full House Appropriations Committee began deliberating Article II this morning, covering Medicaid, Health and Human Services Commission contracting, state hospitals, and Child Protective Services, among other topics. Beginning next week, the Subcommittee on Article II will spearhead those discussions. We also anticipate the House to begin referring bills to committees next week.

The House and Senate adjourned until early next week.

Three-plus weeks into session, bill filing continues as the March 8 filing deadline nears. The current count is more than 2,100 bills filed. The Texas Medical Association is monitoring nearly 450 of them ¾ in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Just over 30 days remain for bills to be filed — the rate of filing likely will accelerate now that committees are set.

HEALTHY VISION 2025

Healthy Vision 2025 ¾ released last week ¾ is TMA’s all-inclusive, health care roadmap for legislators.

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

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK REDUX

With committee assignments complete and committee referrals for bills underway, the urgency for your grassroots participation will increase. 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 and our Grassroots Advocacy Guide 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.

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 – there are three left;
  • 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.

Today’s physician of the day is Doug Curran, MD, of Athens. Dr. Curran graduated from the University of Arkansas for Medical Services, is a member of the Henderson County Medical Society and is the current TMA president.

WHAT WE’RE READING 

Five cases of measles confirmed in the greater Houston area – Houston Chronicle

Bell County health officials confirm possible measles case, others await results – KCEN-TV

Baylor Scott & White calls off mega merger with Houston hospital system – The Dallas Morning News

Trump is planning campaign to halt transmission of HIV in U.S. 2030 – The Washington Post

Demand for Long-Acting Birth Control Rose After Trump’s Election Amid Insurance Concerns, Study Shows – The New York Times

Texas eyes another $3 billion round of cancer research bonds – The Bond Buyer

Medical Student Run Clinic Honored With Champion of Health Award – Tech View – TTUHSC El Paso

Ideas To Curb Surprise Medical Bills Percolate With Rare Bipartisan Push – Kaiser Health News

Sexual assault survivors applaud legislature’s bipartisan effort to address the issue – The Dallas Morning News

White Coats Flood Capitol On First Tuesday

(Budget, Public Health) Permanent link

 White_Coats

UNDER THE ROTUNDA
Today was a busy day at the Capitol, highlighted by the Texas Medical Association’s first of four First Tuesdays at the Capitol of the session. Many white coats watched from the House Gallery as Gov. Greg Abbott delivered his State of the State address.

Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee heard testimony on funding the Texas Medical Board for the 2020-21 biennium. This morning, the committee began its deliberations on health care (Article II) funding with invited testimony. Public testimony will be accepted tomorrow, and TMA will submit written comments regarding the Department of State Health Services requests for additional funding for items such as data surveillance and reporting, and the state’s public health laboratory.

The House Appropriations Committee begins deliberating Article II tomorrow, covering Medicaid, Health and Human Services Commission contracting, state hospitals, and Child Protective Services, among other topics.

In other House news, Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place) was reappointed chair of the House Appropriations Article II subcommittee, and Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville) was appointed vice chair. Putting a strong supporter of medicine and a physician in these two slots is excellent news for the house of medicine.

Three full weeks into session, bill filing continues as the March 8 filing deadline nears. The current count is nearly 2,100 bills filed. The Texas Medical Association is monitoring nearly 450 of them ¾ in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Four and a half weeks remain for bills to be filed — the rate of filing likely will accelerate as time runs down.

HEALTHY VISION 2025

Healthy Vision 2025 – released last week – is TMA’s all-inclusive, health care roadmap for legislators.

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

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK REDUX

With committee assignments complete and committee referrals for bills underway, the urgency for your grassroots participation will increase. 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.

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 – there are three left;
  • 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.

Today’s physician of the day is Naomi Davis, MD, of McAllen. Dr. Davis graduated from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit and is a member of the Hidalgo-Starr County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING
Drug-resistant ‘superbug’ a health threat in Travis County – KVUE-TV

Obesity Tied to Higher Cancer Rates in Younger People – The New York Times

VERIFY: Texas has the most uninsured people in America. That’s crushing rural hospitals – WFAA-TV

Texas doctor convicted of illegally dealing painkillers – Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Measles outbreak: Children of anti-vaxxers are asking how to get vaccinated without their parents knowing – Newsweek

Proposed legislation highlights sexual assault issues in Texas – FOX 7 Austin

Texas optometrists “just roll our eyes” over treatment restrictions in the state – The Texas Tribune

Video Recap: Texas Lawmakers Getting To Work on Budget

(Budget, Public Health) Permanent link

The stage is set for budget talks and a deep dive into the legislative agenda as Texas lawmakers settled into their new committee assignments this week.

In this week’s Texas Medical Association Legislative Hotline video, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) — the Senate Health and Human Services Committee chair — shares some of her thoughts on medicine’s priorities.

Senator Kolkhorst talked about the dollars involved in Medicaid, and also touched on several of medicine’s other legislative priorities during a presentation Saturday at TMA’s Winter Conference.

TMA’s Legislative Affairs Director Dan Finch also gives his analysis on the Texas legislature.

Finally, hear a First Tuesdays at the Capitol challenge for Texas physicians from Jason Terk, MD, chair of TMA’s Council on Legislation.

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.