As always, the TMA professional staff will complement the relationships that physician leaders have built with their senators and representatives as they work to promote TMA’s 2017 agenda. Tops on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, telemedicine, the Texas Medical Board, and public health priorities.
Don't miss your chance to work with lawmakers to influence legislation that affects you and your patients. TMA urges physicians, medical students, and TMA Alliance members to make their presence felt in Austin in the 2017 legislative session by participating in First Tuesdays at the Capitol.
Less than a month-and-a-half remains until the Texas Legislature adjourns, and recent weeks provided encouragement for many of medicine's foremost interests in the 2017 session.
The House-Senate Budget Conference Committee begins its work this week.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and Sens. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen), Joan Huffman (R-Houston), Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), and Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), will be joined by House conferees led by House Appropriations Committee Chair John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond). His fellow House members on the panel are Reps. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin), Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), Larry Gonzalez (R-Round Rock), and Oscar Longoria (D-Mission). Of note: Two physicians will serve on the panel to decide the state’s budget for the next two years..
This week’s TMA Legislative News Hotline video covers the Texas Medical Board Sunset Review bill as it moves through the House, a bill allowing physicians to override health insurer’s step-therapy protocols, and a TMA physician who gave some very personal testimony in support of school vaccination rate data. Also this week, there’s TMA-organized push-back against the burdensome maintenance of certification (MOC) process. Watch all of that and more in this week’s episode.
CPRIT’s Sun Shines On: Wednesday the Senate passed Senate Bill 224, Sen. Kirk Watson’s (D-Austin) Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) sunset bill, on a 23-8 vote. The bill extends the sunset date of the cancer research organization from 2021 to 2023, while also adding two years to its eligibility to allocate funds, to 2022.
The Texas Cancer Partnership, a group of cancer-fighting organizations — of which the Texas Public Health Coalition and therefore TMA is a member — submitted a letter supporting CPRIT’s extension.
The biennial House-Senate budget dance took one expected step — and an unusual pirouette — yesterday. Although the two chambers’ spending plans for 2018-19 are only about a half-billion dollars apart, how much they spend on what and how they bridge a multi-billion-dollar revenue gap are quite different. That’s not unexpected. The Senate and House always come up with different budgets and then spend the final six weeks or so of the legislative session negotiating the discrepancies. (See TMA’s April 17 “Political Prognosis” for a rundown on how the two plans’ health-related spending proposals contrast.)
Tuesdays are always busy days for medicine in Austin because of the regular meetings schedules for key legislative committees. TMA physician volunteers and public affairs team today are covering the House Public Health Committee, the House Insurance Committee, and the Senate Business & Commerce Committee (which handles insurance issues). Former TMA Trustee David Teuscher, MD, of Bastrop is doing yeoman’s duty testifying on multiple bills today. Those three committees meet every Tuesday morning at 8 am. See some of the bills we’re tracking.
From maintaining physicians' right to bill for their services and cracking down on narrow health insurance networks, to cutting more Medicaid red tape and making more room for doctors-in-training, the Texas Medical Association's 2017 legislative agenda aims to build on past achievements. A tough budget year and wholesale review of the state's health professions licensing boards could generate some challenges, while the presidential election results should renew conversations over reforming Medicaid and health care delivery overall.
Doctors understand it’s frustrating to have health insurance coverage but still receive unexpected medical bills. Watch this video to learn about Stanley and the surprise medical bills he received… and learn why he received them.
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TMA made its voice heard Friday on Medicaid eligibility and other issues as the Senate Committee on Finance's Workgroup on Health Care Costs held its first meeting. Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown) is chairing the workgroup, which began examining state agencies’ health-related budgets and expenditures, with the goal of finding areas to cut while preserving services.
As state lawmakers begin preparing for the 2017 legislative session, TMA and four state specialty societies delivered a detailed, five-page document with significant recommendations to improve the Texas Medicaid program.
We appreciate the governor’s designation of the Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, and we offer our support and expertise to this diverse group. While clearly there is substantial institutional and organizational strength in the task force, we encourage you to recognize the need to include physicians who directly practice in clinical settings.
Texas has been a leader in telemedicine-done right. Physicians and lawmakers continue to examine telemedicine's ability to expand patient access to care via technology while ensuring safe, high-quality health care, improving the reimbursement process, and a clear-cut comprehensible policy and regulation guideline.
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