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Good Samaritan Law - 08/16/2019

Expansion of the Good Samaritan law to volunteer health care professionals and sponsoring health care institutions for care, assistance, or advice provided during a disaster


Charting Medicine’s Statehouse Progress: A Successful Legislative Session for Physicians - 08/06/2019

Legislation is just one piece of a healthy Texas. But it’s a big piece, and when the Texas Medical Association told the lawmakers of 2019 how it should fit, those legislators largely shaped it to what physicians and patients need. The house of medicine convinced lawmakers that raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21 was the right thing for the state’s present and future. Medicine also successfully persuaded the legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott to improve insurance network adequacy and directories, which will help with surprise medical bills.


New Laws Improve Opioid Prescription Process in Texas - 08/06/2019

The 2019 Texas Legislature enacted three new laws that will change the way physicians prescribe opioids, including House Bill 3284, which delays the mandate for physicians check the state’s prescription monitoring program, known as PMP Aware, for prescriptions tied to opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and carisoprodol. The bill pushes back the requirement from Sept. 1, 2019, to March 1, 2020.


When Do New Opioid Prescribing Requirements Take Effect? - 08/02/2019

To combat the ongoing opioid crisis, state lawmakers passed several measures that change how physicians and other health care professionals will prescribe opioids. However, provisions of the laws take effect at different times, so prescribers should be aware of the deadlines and effective dates of each requirement. Below is a chart showing when each provision takes effect.


Physician-Legislator Rep. John Zerwas, MD, Steps Down, Joins UT System - 08/02/2019

One of medicine’s long-time and most influential state legislative champions, Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond), has been named The University of Texas System’s new executive vice chancellor for health affairs. On Wednesday Representative Zerwas announced that he will step down from elected office as of Sept. 30. He will start his new position Oct. 1.


On Call at the Capitol: TMA's 2019 Legislative Agenda - 08/02/2019

When the 86th Texas Legislature convenes on Jan. 8, TMA will build on its major successes of 2017, renew some of the biggest battles that stalled two years ago, and tackle relatively new ones. Physicians will make their case to a somewhat new makeup of lawmakers as they pursue better Medicaid coverage for postpartum women, insurer accountability for narrow networks, more funding for community mental health, and many other aims.


Respecting the Roles: TMA Battles Another Round of Scope of Practice Bills - 08/02/2019

When nonmedical professionals ask the Texas Legislature for the authority to practice medicine, TMA mounts a full-court press, letting lawmakers know why there are some roles only physicians can fill.


Swinging For Fairness: Law Creates New Ballgame for Surprise Billing - 08/02/2019

When Senate Bill 1264 was first introduced in February, insurers had the bases loaded, threatening to score a lopsided surprise-billing victory on one swing. With some deft pitching in the Texas Legislature, medicine worked its way out of the jam. The “baseball-style arbitration” measure by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) isn’t perfect, and like a hitter who’s getting busted inside, physicians will have adjustments to make. But the improved SB 1264 passed with a framework that’s fairer to everyone involved.   


TMB: Back on Track - 08/02/2019

Two years ago during the 2017 regular session, the Texas Legislature put the practice of medicine in the state in serious danger, failing to renew the Texas Medical Board (TMB) and the state’s Medical Practice Act. In 2019 House Bill 1504 by Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) put TMB back on the standard 12-year sunset cycle, renewing the board through 2031.


Scope of Practice: Shot Down - 08/02/2019

When it comes to shooting down dangerous attempts to expand non-medical practitioners’ scope of practice, TMA’s advocacy army once again proved to be expert marksmen in 2019. Medicine trained its scope on bills that would have allowed nurse practitioners, chiropractors, and optometrists, among others, to wade into the practice of medicine.


Medicaid: Reforms, But No Raise - 08/02/2019

Medicine didn’t get everything it needed from lawmakers for Medicaid, including TMA’s biggest and boldest ask of the 2019 session. Still, progress TMA achieved on managed care reform and other facets of Medicaid will advance physicians’ efforts to care for the most vulnerable Texans.


Opioids and Pharmacy: PMP Extension Granted - 08/02/2019

When it came to opioids and pharmacy matters, some of the major pieces of medicine’s 2019 agenda came down to something everyone wishes they had more of: time. Physicians need it to get comfortable with a mandate to check the state’s prescription monitoring program (PMP). Patients need it to make sure the pain medications they’re prescribed do what the drugs are supposed to do. The legislature listened, and TMA achieved wins on both counts, as well as on increased transparency from pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).


Insurance: Network Solutions - 08/02/2019

Charting Medicine’s Statehouse Progress TMA went into this session looking to attack insurer network inadequacy and health plans’ use of care impeding prior authorization demands. On both fronts, medicine scored solid legislative wins that will make it


Prescribing Changes in Texas: Know What You Need to Know - 07/23/2019

By now you might know that state lawmakers recently passed a number of changes to how prescriptions for certain pain medications must be written and processed, as part of a larger effort to fight prescription fraud and abuse. TMA will outline what prescribers can expect as a result of these advocacy efforts in a free live webinar on July 31.


86th Texas Legislature Letters and Testimonies - 07/19/2019

During this legislative session, TMA councils and committees are locking down and promoting health care policies to ensure Texas’ patients have access to affordable and high quality health care. Here are TMA’s testimonies, comments, and letters to state lawmakers.


85th Texas Legislature Testimonies and Letters - 07/19/2019

TMA physician leaders already are working on behalf of their profession and their patients to improve Texas health care system. During this legislative session, TMA councils and committees are locking down and promoting health care policies to ensure Texas’ patients have access to affordable and high quality health care. Here are TMA’s testimonies, comments, and letters to state lawmakers.


TMA’s Top 10 Victories this Legislative Session - 07/09/2019

The Texas Medical Association scored on a wide range of goals to improve the state’s medical landscape during this year’s session of the Texas Legislature, which concluded in May.  TMA’s Vice President of Advocacy Darren Whitehurst tells us what we need to know about medicine's victories in the TMA Legislative News Hotline’s Top 10 Issues videos.


Federal Tort Reform Bill Should Mirror Texas Law, Groups Say - 06/26/2019

Physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers throughout Texas would lose substantial protections against frivolous medical lawsuits if a bill working its way through the nation's capital becomes law, two Texas medical groups say.


Court Sides With TMA in Final Ruling on Chiropractic Scope of Practice Lawsuit - 06/26/2019

We won! In a final judgment by Travis County District Court Judge Rhonda Hurley, TMA prevailed in its long-held declaration that the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners' (TBCE's) rules permitting chiropractors to make medical diagnoses and perform other medical procedures exceed the chiropractic scope of practice.  


TMA Opposes Dental Board's Sleep Apnea Treatment Rules - 06/26/2019

TMA is fighting the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners' (TSBDE's) proposed rule changes for dental treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. The association told TSBDE in a letter TMA "strongly opposes any attempt to expand the dentists' scope of practice through the promulgation of rules that TMA contends not only lack support in, but also conflict with, the applicable law passed by the Texas Legislature. Unfortunately, this opposition extends to the rules adopted to be effective on June 11, 2014, and the new March 18, 2016, rule proposal."


Victory! Marriage and Family Therapists Can't Diagnose - 06/26/2019

In a scope-of-practice victory for medicine, the Supreme Court of Texas upheld the Third Court of Appeals' decision that the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists' (MFT's) diagnostic assessment rule exceeds the scope of marriage and family therapy.


Houston Judge Changes Course, Says DOs Can File Commitment Papers - 06/26/2019

Physicians across Texas are breathing a sigh of relief — at least for now — thanks to Harris County Probate Judge Rory Olsen's decision to allow doctors of osteopathy (DOs) to file Certificates of Medical Examinations needed for mental health commitments. TMA and a host of other physician organizations have been fighting the judge's initial ruling, which prohibited DOs from signing the commitment papers.


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.


Texas Physicians Weigh in on Federal Surprise Billing Solution - 06/19/2019

As Texas prepares to implement an arbitration process to address surprise medical bills, Texas physicians are helping the U.S. Congress work on a federal solution. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health tackled surprise billing in a hearing last week to consider the No Surprises Act, draft legislation put together by two committee members.