UNDER THE ROTUNDA
With a unified voice and a unanimous vote, the Senate passed a bill this week designed to identify children with mental-health needs and direct them to appropriate, timely treatment.
Senate Bill 10, by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), would create the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium, a collaboration of health-related institutions of higher education and the Statewide Behavioral Health Coordinating Council to improve effectiveness of and access to behavioral health care.
Senator Nelson (pictured) has been frank about the need for SB10, filing it as part of a comprehensive response to last year’s school shooting in Santa Fe. The bill, a priority item for Gov. Greg Abbott, now awaits committee referral in the House.
Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond), heard testimony today on draft spending recommendations for health and human services programs. Chief among the recommendations for the 2020-21 state budget are an additional $72.6 million for Early Childhood Intervention programs and an additional $88.1 million for women’s health. We will share a deeper analysis soon.
The House and Senate both are out until Monday afternoon, but many lawmakers are still in town as tomorrow is the bill filing deadline for the 2019 session. So far, more than 5,400 bills have been filed. TMA is monitoring more than 1,100 of them.
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 602 by Rep. Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) would require the Texas Medical Board (TMB) to inform the National Practitioner Data Bank when an administrative law judge decides an alleged violation by a physician did not occur. TMB also would be required to remove any description or order regarding the alleged violation from its website. TMA supports this bill.
- House Bill 603, also by Representative Zedler, would require TMB to submit a copy of any complaint regarding the board or its employees to the House Committee on Public Health within 30 days of receiving the complaint. TMA supports this bill.
- House Bill 1848 by Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) would require long-term care facilities to establish an infection prevention and control program. The idea for this bill originated in TMA’s Committee on Infectious Diseases. House Bill 1360 by Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston) is identical. TMA supports these bills.
HEALTHY VISION 2025
Healthy Vision 2025 – released in late January – 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 contacting your legislator, remember to be specific about the action you need, e.g., vote yes on HB10. Remember that every constituent contacting a legislator thinks his or her issue is the most important, so sharing facts or a memorable story as part of your communication will have more staying power than a simple action request. Get more tips in our Grassroots Advocacy Guide.
PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY
Today’s physician of the day is Paula Denson, MD, of Woodville. Dr. Denson graduated from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and is a member of both TMA and the Hardin-Tyler County Medical Society.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Bill Filed to Raise Texas Smoking Age to 21 – KLBJ News Radio
First measles case confirmed in San Antonio – KSAT-TV
Texas Senate approves priority mental health bill – Austin American-Statesman
F.D.A. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, Who Fought Teenage Vaping, Resigns – The New York Times
How influencers are helping Baylor Scott & White save lives – Becker’s Hospital Review
The Stress of a Natural Disaster Can Take a Toll on Babies in Utero – The Atlantic