UNDER THE ROTUNDA
Today is the 126th day of this session; fourteen days remain. This week Senate bills will move in the House and vice-versa. Meanwhile, lawmakers will continue to negotiate the final 2020-21 state budget until the last possible moment.
The Texas Medical Association remains steadfast in its request for more funding for Medicaid, women’s health, mental health, and graduate medical education (GME.) We will report developments as they happen.
Friday at midnight was the deadline for House bills to receive final approval in the House, and many bills medicine is tracking are still in the game. Here’s a status check of several bills that continue to move through the legislative process.
TMB Sunset/Corporate Practice of Medicine
- House Bill 1504 by Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), the Texas Medical Board (TMB) Sunset bill that would extend the TMB for another 12 years, is on the Senate Calendar for today. TMA testified in support of this bill earlier this session.
- House Bill 744 by Rep. Toni Rose (D-Dallas), which would allow continued Medicaid coverage for eligible women up to 12 months postpartum, was voted out of the House 87-43 and now heads to the Senate. Medicaid coverage currently expires 60 days after delivery, but the vast majority of maternal deaths occur from 61 to 365 days postpartum. TMA supports this bill.
- Senate Bill 749 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), which would establish level of care designations for hospitals that provide maternal and neonatal care, was voted out of the House Public Health Committee and awaits initial debate on the House floor. TMA supports this bill.
- House Bill 10 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) – which would create the Texas Behavioral Health Research Institute, award grants to increase the number of psychiatric residency positions, and create a child and adolescent psychiatric nursing grant program – was voted out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and awaits debate on the Senate floor. TMA submitted written testimony in support of the bill.
- Senate Bill 21 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston ) – which would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and vape products to 21 years, excluding active duty military – is set for debate on the House floor tomorrow. TMA testified in strong support of SB 21 earlier this session.
- House Bill 1880 by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), which would establish time limits for corrections and updates to be made to insurers’ online network directories, was voted out of the House 116-18 Friday and heads to the Senate. TMA supports this bill.
- House Bill 2041 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress ) – which would require freestanding emergency room facilities to post conspicuous notices that the facility or the physician might be out of network, along with written disclosure of possible observation and facility fees – is set for a hearing in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee tomorrow. TMA continues to support this bill.
- House Bill 2099 by Rep. Stan Lambert (R-Abilene), which would prohibit a health plan from changing a patient’s drug coverage upon plan renewal if the patient has been stable on that drug, is set for debate in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee tomorrow. TMA submitted written testimony in support of this bill in March.
- House Bill 2327 by Rep. Greg Bonnen, MD (R-Friendswood), which would require both greater prior authorization transparency and that utilization reviews be conducted by a licensed Texas physician, is set for a hearing in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee tomorrow. TMA testified in support of this bill last month.
- House Bill 3911 by Rep. Hubert Vo (D-Houston), which would require the Texas Department of Insurance to examine the network adequacy of preferred provider organizations and exclusive provider organizations at least once every three years – is set for debate in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee tomorrow. TMA testified in support of HB 3911 last month.
- Senate Bill 1264 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) – which would require baseball-style arbitration for most surprise medical bills, removing the patient from the billing dispute and resolution process – continues to be a work in progress as it moves through the legislative process. TMA supports the revised bill and is working with the bill’s authors on improvements to the language.
- Senate Bill 670 by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway), which would require Medicaid to cover telemedicine services, is set for debate on the House floor today. TMA supports this bill.
Prescription Monitoring Program
- House Bill 3284 by Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville ) – which would require electronic prescribing of opioids, unless a waiver is granted, and establish an advisory committee to the State Board of Pharmacy – was voted out of the House 136-3 and heads to the Senate. TMA supports this bill.
- Senate Bill 2316 by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) would delay the mandate to check the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PMP) until March 1, 2020, to allow time for integration of the PMP into physicians’ electronic health records. The bill also would create an advisory committee to the Board of Pharmacy. TMA supports this bill, which was voted out of the House Public Health Committee and awaits debate on the House floor.
- House Bill 1848 by Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth), which would establish infection control programs in long-term care facilities, is set for debate in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee tomorrow. TMA testified in support of HB 1848 in March and continues to support the bill.
Graduate Medical Education
- House Bill 1065 by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin ) – which would create a grant program to develop residency training tracks to prepare physicians for practice in rural, underserved settings – is on today’s Senate Calendar. TMA submitted written testimony in support of this bill earlier this month.
- Senate Bill 1378 by Senator Buckingham, which would require new medical schools to account for peak class sizes – and not merely inaugural class sizes – when planning residency slots, has been sent to the governor. TMA strongly supports this bill.
- House Bill 1693 by Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo), which would revise timelines established to submit medical expense affidavits in legal cases, was set for debate in the Senate State Affairs Committee today. TMA supports this bill.
Bills that didn’t get passed by the deadline on their own can be proposed as amendments to legislation that is moving, a strategy that is not always successful. Conventional wisdom among legislators is that if a bill couldn’t get out of committee, it must not be worthy to be an amendment.
The next major hurdle: the House must consider Senate bills for their initial debate on the House floor by midnight, Tuesday, May 21 – next week.
TMA is watching each bill, committee substitute, and amendment for any changes. It is not uncommon for revised legislation to prompt a revised position from TMA, particularly when bad bills become better bills through rewriting or amendments. If you have a question about a specific bill, contact the advocacy team via the TMA Knowledge Center by email or call (800) 880-7955, Monday-Friday, 8:15 am to 5:15 pm CT.
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.
PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY
Today’s physician of the day is Jocelyn Wilson, MD, of Temple. Dr. Wilson graduated from the Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University and is a member of both TMA and the Bell County Medical Society.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Travis County among the riskiest locations for measles outbreak, UT study says – KVUE-TV
Many Hospitals Charge Double or Even Triple What Medicare Would Pay – The New York Times
Trump calls on Congress to end ‘surprise medical bills’ – The Associated Press
Mumps cases confirmed in Cameron County – Valley Morning Star
CDC: Hepatitis A Cases Quadruple in 5 Years – MedPage Today
Texas House OKs death penalty ban for severely mentally ill – Austin American-Statesman