Medical Board Renewed; Special Session Ends

TMB ThankyouThe 85th Texas Legislature returned to Austin nearly a month ago for its first called special session. Starting with the Texas Medical Board (TMB) sunset bill and other sunset legislation, Gov. Greg Abbott identified 21 priorities for consideration – all reprised from the regular session that ended May 29. The session concluded late on Aug. 15.

Without legislative action, TMB would have begun a wind-down period beginning Sept. 1, and the Medical Practice Act would cease to exist on that date. Fortunately, those doomsday scenarios will not happen.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed bills extending the life of the Texas Medical Board and the Medical Practice Act on Aug. 11, just hours after they reached his desk. Both would have vanished Sept. 1 without legislative action. TMA thanked the governor and lawmakers for "standing up for medicine and patient care."

Thank you for standing up for medicine and patient care..

Lawmakers Address Other Issues of Concern to Medicine.

Among the 20 additional items Gov. Greg Abbott added to the special session agenda:

On Aug. 16, the governor signed Senate Bill 11 by Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), sponsored in the House by Rep. Greg Bonnen, MD (R-Friendswood). It takes effect April 1, 2018. This legislation restricts the application of do-not-resuscitate orders to competent patients when it is contrary to their wishes and death is not imminent. TMA previously has sought clarifications in the legislation to protect physicians who comply in good faith as well as to protect physicians’ right to uphold their moral conscience in complying with care demands. The complicated legislation has been discussed in numerous stakeholder negotiations, and many different versions have been drafted and circulated. TMA agreed to remain neutral on language that addressed many of the association’s major concerns.

Several bills addressed the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force, which will study trends and conditions associated with pregnancy-related deaths, and extend the expiration date by four years. Senate Bill 17 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) passed both chambers and was signed by the governor Aug. 16.

While neutral on House Bill 215 by Rep. Jim Murphy (R-Houston) regarding additional reporting requirements for abortions, TMA sought to reinforce that in an emergency situation, the physician’s focus must be on saving the patient. HB 215 earned the governor's signature on Aug. 16.

House Bill 21 and House Bill 30, school finance bills by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), will redirect up to $563 million — $351 million of which was previously designated for Medicaid managed care organizations — to shoring up teacher recruitment, classroom funding, and retired teacher health care benefits. Both HB 21 and HB 30 stipulate the “loan” will be repaid. Governor Abbott signed both bills Aug. 16. 

Just as the association did when this issue came up during the regular session, TMA noted concerns on House Bill 204, by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), which would mandate electrocardiograms for all high school student athletes. TMA instead supports national standardized screening procedures and evidence-based guidelines. HB 204 was heard in the House Public Education Committee and left pending.

Updated Aug. 17, 2017

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