Stories written by Jennifer Perkins

Legislative Hotline: Prescription Monitoring and Professional Liability Bills Highlight Today’s Deliberations - 05/17/2019

Today is the 130th  day of the session. But who’s counting? The House and Senate both have less than one week to vote on bills, which must be complete by midnight May 22. Meanwhile, lawmakers are finalizing negotiations on the final 2020-21 state budget; the deadline for agreement between the two chambers is midnight May 26. Here’s a status check on numerous bills that continue to move through the legislative process.


Legislative Hotline: Patient-Friendly Insurance Bills Top Today’s Calendar - 05/17/2019

Today is the 130th day of the 140-day session. Time is quickly running out for bills to pass. Fortunately, physicians’ priority bills are still moving toward the finish line. The House and Senate both have less than one week to vote on bills, which must be complete by midnight May 22. TMA remains steadfast in its request for more funding for Medicaid, women’s health, mental health, and graduate medical education (GME), and will continue to vigorously plead our case.


Legislative Hotline: Texas Medical Board Sunset and Tobacco 21 Bills Make Progress - 05/16/2019

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. Also, 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 today.


Legislative Hotline: Insurance Bills In the Spotlight Today - 05/14/2019

Insurance, corporate practice of medicine, tobacco, maternal health bills all moving as session winds down.


Legislative Hotline: Insurance, Public Health, Opioids, and Sunset Bills Still Alive With Two Weeks Left in Session - 05/13/2019

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.


Texas Physicians Fight End-of-Life Bill With Passion - 05/10/2019

When the Texas Medical Association urged members to ask their state senators to vote “no” on a key bill regarding treatment disputes at the end of life, they didn’t hold back. Hundreds of Texas physicians took up the call, using TMA’s Grassroots Action enter to share very personal and passionate messages with their senators.


Legislative Hotline: First Bill-Killing Deadline Passes, Leaving Mass Casualties - 05/10/2019

Today is the 123rd day of this session; 17 days remain. Those 17 days will be a flurry of activity and behind-the-scenes maneuvering to keep bills moving toward passage. Here’s a status check of several bills important to medicine that continue to move through the legislative process.


Legislative Hotline: Maternal Health, Network Directories, Cancer Research Bills Up for Debate Today - 05/10/2019

House Bill 744 by Rep. Toni Rose (D-Dallas), which would allow continued Medicaid coverage for eligible women up to 12 months postpartum, is set on today’s House Calendar. 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.


Legislative Hotline: Disaster Liability Protection Bill Goes to Governor - 05/08/2019

Senate Bill 752 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), which would provide liability protection for physicians who volunteer in the aftermath of a disaster, received unanimous approval on the House floor yesterday. It now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature. TMA strongly supports this bill.


Legislative Hotline: Final White Coat Invasion of the Session – Impactful as Always - 05/07/2019

Today was the final First Tuesdays at the Capitol advocacy event of the legislative session, and during the white coat invasion Texas Medical Association and TMA Alliance members were well informed for their visits with lawmakers on bills that TMA is both pushing and fighting.


Legislative Hotline: Join Us For the Final First Tuesdays of the Session Tomorrow - 05/06/2019

Tomorrow is the final First Tuesdays advocacy event of the legislative session, and the white coat invasion will be well informed for their visits with lawmakers on bills that the Texas Medical Association is both supporting and opposing. Twenty-one days remain in this legislative session. To put into perspective how quickly bills that originated in the House must move to have a chance to become law this session, they must be out of committee today, and have had their initial debate on the House floor by the end of the day Thursday, May 9. Then the process repeats in the Senate.


Legislative Hotline: Governor Signs Bill Creating New Medical School - 05/06/2019

Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 826 by Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond), which creates the University of Houston College of Medicine, into law Thursday, after it was unanimously approved by the Senate. The new medical school, which will be the 13th in Texas, will welcome its inaugural class in the fall of 2020.


Legislative Hotline: Help Stop Bad End-of-Life Bill From Moving Forward - 05/02/2019

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 – could come up in the Texas Senate as soon as today. The Texas Medical Association is vehemently opposed to this bill and encourages you to help us stop the bill from making any further progress.


Legislative Hotline: Working to Keep Balance Billing Reform Moving - 05/01/2019

Senate Bill 1264 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), which would require baseball-style arbitration for most surprise medical bills, is currently awaiting a hearing in the House Insurance Committee. SB 1264 seeks to end the problem of surprise or balance billing for patients by removing them from the process altogether. It would implement an arbitration process in which health plans and physicians work out billing differences using market rate benchmarks.


Legislative Hotline: Safety for First Responders, and Preventing Chiropractors From Practicing Neurology - 04/30/2019

A pair of bills that would help first responders during disasters began their journey through the Senate today with hearings in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The bills were written by Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), whose district was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.


Legislative Hotline: Another Positive Step For Tobacco Restriction - 04/25/2019

It’s been a busy week for bills that have been left pending in committee over the past several weeks. Below is an update on the status change of bills important to the house of medicine.


Legislative Hotline: Telemedicine Bill Up for Vote Today - 04/24/2019

Expanding access and payment for telemedicine services is a Texas Medical Association priority this session, and a bill that would improve physicians’ ability to serve their own patients electronically is making steady progress.


Legislative Hotline: Pediatricians Push for Vaccinations - 04/23/2019

The House and Senate returned from the long weekend more impassioned than ever, with today’s most vigorous discussion occurring in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee over radically different approaches to immunizations.


Legislative Hotline: A Check-Up on Medicine’s Bills - 04/22/2019

With the House and Senate adjourned until tomorrow and just five weeks remaining in this session, here's a recap of the status of numerous bills the house of medicine is tracking.


Legislative Hotline: Insurance and Marijuana Bills Moving; Budget Negotiators Named - 04/18/2019

The days are getting longer, both because it’s finally spring – and the legislative session is beginning its final act. Before the House and Senate adjourned for the long Easter weekend, some bills the Texas Medical Association is watching moved on to the next step in the legislative process.


Legislative Hotline: Medical Board Sunset, Balance Billing Moving Forward - 04/17/2019

As debate and deliberations have shifted from committees to the floor of each chamber, two of Texas Medical Association’s priority bills have had their turn in the spotlight: continuation of the Texas Medical Board and balance billing.


Legislative Hotline: TMA Pushes Lawmakers To Streamline Prior Auth Requirements - 04/16/2019

With fewer than six weeks remaining in the legislative session, this week is a crucible of sorts: If a bill doesn’t get an initial committee hearing this week, it likely is dead for the session. The Texas Medical Association is pushing today to win committee approval for several bills as well as a successful House floor debate on a critical piece of legislation.


Legislative Hotline: Marijuana and Cannabidiol as Medicine? - 04/11/2019

A panel of the House Public Health Committee created to focus on the medical use of marijuana met today, with a full agenda of 10 bills. The bills up for consideration today run the gamut from an affirmative defense to prosecution and a vast expansion of diagnoses eligible for treatment with these substances.


Legislative Hotline: Senate Passes Tobacco, Budget Bills; Debates Patient Autonomy - 04/10/2019

Deciding how to spend the final days and hours of life is highly a personal decision, and it’s one physicians encourage their patients to make long before the need arises. Today, the Senate debated end-of life-bills after voting yesterday to approve its version of the state’s 2020-21 budget and to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and vape products.


Legislative Hotline: Medicaid Managed Care Needs “Major Tune-up,” TMA Tells Lawmakers - 04/09/2019

Less than seven weeks remain in the 2019 legislative session, and lawmakers are now deep into the meaty issues. In the House Human Services Committee today, TMA President Doug Curran, MD, testified in support of House Bill 4178 by Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), which would significantly overhaul the Medicaid managed care program.