UNDER THE ROTUNDA
Today is the 129th day of the session.
In the final 11 days of this session, much of the negotiations to pass or kill bills will happen behind the scenes. The calendar will run out of time, stranding many bills. The Texas Medical Association will keep fighting for physicians’ priority bills until the last minute.
The House and Senate both have one week to vote on bills, which must be complete by midnight May 22.
Meanwhile, lawmakers will continue to negotiate the final 2020-21 state budget; the deadline for agreement between the two chambers is midnight May 26. TMA remains steadfast in its request for more funding for Medicaid, women’s health, mental health, and graduate medical education (GME), and will vigorously plead our case, particularly after comptroller Glenn Hegar on Tuesday revised the state’s revenue estimate for the next two years. The new estimate will give lawmakers an additional $500 million to spend on public programs.
Bills set on House and Senate calendars occasionally roll over to the next day if time runs out to debate them on the floor, and that happened yesterday. Here’s a status check on numerous 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, was voted unanimously out of the Senate yesterday. The House must now decide whether to accept changes the Senate made to the bill or request a conference committee to negotiate the differences. TMA testified in support of this bill earlier this session.
- House Bill 1532 by Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas), which would protect employed physicians’ clinical autonomy and independent medical judgment from hospital administrators’ interference, will be heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee today. TMA testified in support of this bill in March.
Tobacco and Cancer
- 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 – passed out of the House with amendments today. The Senate must now decide whether to accept changes the House made to the bill or request a conference committee to negotiate the differences. TMA testified in strong support of SB 21 earlier this session and is optimistic the bill will pass.
- House Bill 39 by Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond), which would repeal the 2022 sunset date for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and extend it by 10 years, was sent to the governer yesterday.
- House Joint Resolution 12, also by Representative Zerwas, is the funding mechanism for HB 39. HJR 12 proposes a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to increase the maximum bond funding for CPRIT. The institute will exhaust its initial allotment of $3 billion by 2021; HJR 12 would replenish those funds, with voter approval. HJR 12 was filed with the Secretary of State yesterday to be placed on the November ballot. TMA strongly supports this measure.
Graduate Medical Education/Workforce
- 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 – was voted out of the Senate 29-2 yesterday. It now returns to the House for consideration of amendments senators added to the bill. TMA submitted written testimony in support of this bill earlier this month.
House Bill 80 by Rep. Lina Ortega (D-El Paso) would have the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) conduct a study and develop an inventory of existing doctoral-level health science education programs. THECB would then issue a report to the legislature with recommendations for establishing new programs and for expanding existing ones. HB 80 is set on today’s Senate Calendar. TMA supports this bill.
- House Bill 1111 by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), which would direct the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to establish new pregnancy medical home pilots in Texas, is set for a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee today. TMA testified in support of this bill last month.
- House Bill 25 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D-Clint), which would create a pilot program to streamline nonemergent medical transportation services in Medicaid and allow children to accompany their pregnant mothers on doctor’s visits, is on today’s Senate Calendar. TMA testified in support of this bill last month.
- House Bill 10 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) would create the Texas Mental and Behavioral Health Research Institute, award grants to increase the number of psychiatric residency positions, and create a child and adolescent psychiatric nursing grant program. It is set on today’s Senate Calendar. TMA submitted written testimony in support of the bill.
- Senate Bill 670 by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway), which would require Medicaid to cover telemedicine services, was voted out of the House 138-0 yesterday. It now returns to the Senate for consideration of amendments the House added to the bill. TMA supports this bill.
- House Bill 871 by Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo), which would expand the use of telemedicine to rural trauma hospitals, is set on today’s Senate Calendar. TMA supports this bill.
- House Bill 1960, also by Representative Price – which would create a Governor’s Broadband Council that must include a medical advocacy representative – is on its way to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk after the House agreed to Senate amendments yesterday. TMA supports this bill.
Prescription Monitoring Program/Opioids
- 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 referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee yesterday and awaits a hearing. TMA supports this bill.
- House Bill 2088 by Rep. Jay Dean (R-Longview), which would require health care professionals dispensing controlled substance prescriptions to provide written notice of the closest safe disposal location and other safe disposal methods available, is set for a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee today. TMA supports this bill.
- House Bill 1848 by Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth), which would establish infection control programs in long-term care facilities, is set for a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee today. TMA testified in support of HB 1848 in March and continues to support the bill.
- Senate Bill 1519 by Senator Kolkhorst, which would establish a statewide council on long-term care facilities, was voted out of the House Human Services Committee yesterday and awaits debate on the House floor. TMA submitted written testimony in support of the bill last month.
- House Bill 1256 by Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), which would grant first responders and their employers access to first responders’ vaccination records on the statewide immunization registry during a disaster, is set on today’s Senate Local and Uncontested Calendar, meaning it faces no opposition. TMA testified in support of this bill last month.
- House Bill 1418, also by Representative Phelan, which would provide first responders and emergency services personnel with their immunization status when they seek certification or recertification, also is set on today’s Senate Local and Uncontested Calendar. TMA testified in support of this bill last month.
- Senate Bill 1037 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) – which would prohibit a credit reporting agency from including on a credit report a collection account for health care services if (1) a consumer was covered by a health benefit plan at the time the out-of-network health care service was incurred; (2) the service was performed by an emergency care provider or facility-based provider; and (3) the collection was for an outstanding balance due to that provider after any applicable copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance – passed 141-0 on the House Local Calendar yesterday. Taking patients out of surprise billing scenarios would render moot the issue of credit reporting for health care. TMA testified against this bill last month.
- House Bill 1941 by Representative Phelan – which would prohibit free-standing emergency facilities from charging “unconscionable” rates, defined as 200 percent or more of the average charge for the same or substantially similar treatment at a hospital emergency room – was voted out of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee yesterday and awaits debate on Senate floor. TMA supports this bill.
End of Life
- Senate Bill 2089 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) – which would require hospitals, physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals to provide what physicians believe amounts to medically inappropriate and potentially harmful care for an unlimited period of time – was voted out of the Senate 22-8-1 yesterday. SB 2089 now heads to the House to await committee referral. TMA continues to vehemently oppose this bill.
- House Bill 2362 by Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) – which would create an exception to the willful and wanton emergency medical care standard if a physician or other health care provider negligently causes a stable patient to require emergency medical treatment – yesterday was referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee, where it awaits a hearing. After extensive negotiation and revision, TMA supports the bill.
TMA is watching each bill, committee substitute, and amendment for any changes, or for an opportunity to amend a stalled TMA-supported bill. 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 during the regular legislative session and the interim.
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 Dana Sprute, MD, of Austin. Dr. Sprute graduated from the UT Health San Antonio Long School of Medicine and is a member of both TMA and the Travis County Medical Society.
WHAT WE’RE READING
The Potentially Lifesaving Difference in How a Gun Is Stored – The New York Times
With cancer rates rising worldwide, oncologist shortage predicted – Reuters
Rate of type-2 diabetes in children in skyrocketing – KENS-TV
State shouldn’t punish people for being poor [Opinion] – Beaumont Enterprise
Health care’s payment model needs changing before the medical system will improve – Houston Business Journal
Tarrant County Named on Most At Risk List for Measles Outbreaks – KXAS-TV