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86th Texas Legislature Letters and Testimonies - 06/21/2019

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 - 06/21/2019

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.


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.


You Write Scripts? You Better Sign Up With the PMP - 06/19/2019

If you don't yet have a user account set up with the state's prescription monitoring program (PMP), known as PMP Aware, now is a good time to get it done.


Legislative Hotline: Governor Signs Key Prior Authorization Bill - 06/17/2019

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.


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 Top 10: What It Took To Renew the TMB for 12 Years - 06/17/2019

Today’s TMA’s Legislative News Hotline video looks at lawmakers’ quest to pass legislation to renew the Texas Medical Board for another 12 years. The Texas Legislature passed the sunset bill this session, House Bill 1504, after the 2017 legislature couldn’t get it done. It awaits Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature.


Legislative Top 10: Law Gives Liability Protections to Physicians Who Respond to Disasters - 06/14/2019

Today’s Texas Medical Association Legislative Hotline video examines Senate Bill 752, which will allow physicians and health care providers to voluntarily respond to disasters without fear of medical liability.


Legislative Top 10: A Closer Look at Texas’ New “Tobacco 21” Law - 06/13/2019

One of the major public health achievements the Texas Medical Association pushed for this past legislative session was Senate Bill 21, which raises the minimum age to buy tobacco and vape-product in Texas from 18 to 21 years. The lifesaving measure, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed last week, is featured in today’s TMA’s Legislative News Hotline video report.  


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.


Legislative Top 10: Lawmakers Take Steps to Keep Texas Mothers Alive - 06/12/2019

Today’s TMA Legislative News Hotline video looks at Senate Bill 750, which requires the state Health and Human Services Commission to expand the Healthy Texas Women program for new mothers beyond the current prevention services it provides. The bill awaits Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature.


Legislative Top 10: Improving Mental Health Care Squeaks into Law - 06/11/2019

Political maneuvering late in the Texas Legislative session saved efforts to improve the effectiveness of and access to behavioral health care in Texas. Today’s TMA Legislative News Hotline video looks at the moves to save Senate Bill 10, which will provide community-level health treatment programs, and mental health research.


Legislative Top 10: Lawmakers Say No to Expanding Scope of Practice - 06/10/2019

Every legislative session, allied health professionals ask lawmakers to broaden their scope of practice to some form of health care only physicians are trained and authorized to provide. Today's TMA Legislative News Hotline video reports that lawmakers passed no such Texas Medical Association-opposed bills this term.


Legislative Top 10: Efforts to Curb Opioid Abuse Await Governor - 06/07/2019

Motivated to act by the ongoing national opioid crisis, the 86th Texas Legislature worked to limit how the powerful drugs are prescribed.  Today's Texas Medical Association Legislative News Hotline video reports on the bill that emerged and describes new prescribing rules for Texas physicians.


Legislative Top 10: Making Sense of Proposed Prior Authorization Fix - 06/06/2019

In today’s Texas Medical Association Legislative News Hotline video, TMA Vice President of Advocacy Darren Whitehurst talks about a bill awaiting Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature that helps prevent delays in care by providing more transparency for patients and physicians regarding what health plans require for prior authorizations.


Legislative Top 10: Bill Could Protect Patients From Surprise Bills - 06/05/2019

Arguably one of the biggest issues Texas lawmakers tackled this session was surprise billing, as they vowed to protect patients from receiving medical bills for care not covered by insurance. In today’s Texas Medical Association Legislative Hotline video – the second in our “top 10” series of issues the Texas Legislature addressed – TMA Vice President of Advocacy Darren Whitehurst explains the bill that could solve the problem.


Legislative Top 10: How Will Medicine Be Funded in the 2020-21 State Budget? - 06/04/2019

In this TMA Legislative News Hotline video, TMA Vice President of Advocacy Darren Whitehurst summarizes the health care-related issues and services that lawmakers included in the 2020-21 state budget. (Hint: Some items will please physicians, and some will disappointment them.)


Legislative Hotline Video: What’s Missing From Texas’ Draft Budget? - 06/03/2019

Lawmakers released their two-year spending plan for 2020-21 this week, but TMA Immediate Past President Doug Curran, MD, says one item that’s not included was greatly needed: A pay hike for doctors who care for Medicaid patients.


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.


A Growing Problem: Childhood Obesity Could Hamper Military Readiness - 05/28/2019

Childhood obesity has become so widespread in the U.S. that it threatens military readiness, but bills currently moving through the Texas Legislature could help alleviate the problem, according to a pair of state lawmakers.


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.