Stories written by Jennifer Perkins

Legislative Hotline: Governor Signs Key Prior Authorization Bill - 06/26/2019

The work of the 86th Texas Legislature passed its final stage at midnight Sunday, the deadline for Gov. Greg Abbott to to sign, veto, or allow bills to become law without his signature. Among those he signed this weekend was Senate Bill 1742, which requires greater transparency with prior authorizations and mandates that utilization reviews be conducted by a Texas-licensed physician in the same or similar specialty as the physician requesting the service or procedure. It also requires health plan directories to clearly identify which physician specialties are in-network at network facilities.


Governor Vetoes Bill That Would’ve Protected Texas’ Youngest - 06/20/2019

Legislation to protect young children by using rear-facing car seats made it to the finish line during the legislative session that ended in May, only to be vetoed by Gov. Greg Abbott early this week. House Bill 448 by Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) would have required children younger than 2 to ride in a rear-facing car set, unless the child is taller than 40 inches and weighs more than 40 pounds, or had a medical condition preventing him or her from sitting in such a seat.


Beware the Bait-and-Switch of Short-Term Insurance Plans - 06/17/2019

Short-term insurance plans were originally intended to be a stopgap solution for people between jobs or who needed temporary coverage for other reasons. But that is changing, and that could be a problem for you or your patients. For Texas at least, a new state law seeks to prevent the shock and awe that happens when patients attempt to access care covered by short-term plans.


Legislative Hotline: Governor Signs Corporate Practice, Maternal Health, and Insurance Bills - 06/12/2019

Gov. Greg Abbott signed several medicine-friendly bills into law, including one that creates a process at the Texas Medical Board that employed physicians can use to file complaints against a hospital or other health organization – protecting employed physicians’ clinical autonomy and independent medical judgment from administrator interference.


Push Governor Abbott For Prior Auth Relief - 05/31/2019

When the dust settled on the 2019 Texas Legislature earlier this week, Senate Bill 1742 was still standing – carefully negotiated and approved by both chambers. SB 1742 has been sent to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature, yet it languishes unsigned. It’s time to send a simple message to Governor Abbott: “Sign Senate Bill 1742.”


Bill Will Protect Physicians in True Emergencies - 05/30/2019

The recently concluded 2019 session of the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 2362 by Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) to address that problem and ensure that physicians working in the emergency room and facing highrisk obstetrical cases requiring immediate and difficult decisions are protected from unwarranted lawsuits.


Legislative Hotline: Done and Gone; Lawmakers Finish Overall Good Session for Medicine - 05/29/2019

Monday was the final day of the 86th Legislative session, when the House and Senate gaveled out sine die, which essentially means without a day specified for future meetings. Here is a list of bills important to medicine that made it across the finish line during the closing weekend and will either head to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for signature or that he’s already signed.


Legislative Hotline: Act Now For Prior Authorization Relief - 05/24/2019

Please call Gov. Greg Abbott’s office now at (512) 463-2000 regarding two key health insurance reform bills. “Tell him to stand with physicians and our patients against insurance company interference,” Texas Medical Association President David Fleeger, MD, said this morning in an email to all members. “Tell the governor to give the go-ahead for strong prior authorization and utilization review protections in Senate Bill 1742 and/or House Bill 2327.”


Legislative Hotline: Several Medicine-Friendly Bills Head to Governor - 05/23/2019

Bill to protect employed physicians’ clinical autonomy and independent medical judgment from hospital administrators’ interference among those headed to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.


Legislative Hotline: Maternal Health Bill Now Awaits Governor’s Approval - 05/22/2019

A bill that directs the Department of State Health Services to develop and implement initiatives to assist pregnant and postpartum women with opioid use disorder and newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome, was sent to the governor yesterday. This bill is specifically referring to the TexasAIM Opioid Bundle that evolved out of the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force and is strongly supported by TMA.


Legislative Hotline: At Long Last, Tobacco 21 Bill Heads To Governor - 05/21/2019

After several sessions’ trying to protect the health of Texas youth by delaying the onset of smoking and thus nicotine addiction, a bill to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and vape products to 21 years is heading to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.


Legislative Hotline: Zero Medicaid Rate Increases in Draft State Budget - 05/20/2019

Lawmakers have released a draft of their negotiations on the final $248 billion 2020-21 state budget, which includes $0 for physician rate increases, despite the Texas Medical Association’s call for a $500 million investment in targeted rate increases in the two-year budget


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.