With the state facing a $30 billion budget deficit, the 2011 Texas Legislature could be disastrous for medicine in Texas. Lawmakers will look for ways to save money, and health care could face potentially devastating funding cuts. Trial lawyers will try to erode the historic tort reforms physicians fought so hard for in 2003, hospitals will try once again to crack the state's ban on the corporate practice of medicine, and advance practice nurses and other nonphysician practitioners will battle for the right to practice independently.
This is where you come in. You can work to save health care funding by lobbying lawmakers and explaining to them how vital it is to preserve and enhance health care funding in Texas. Your patients depend on you.
How can you help? The easiest way is to come to Austin and make your voice heard during First Tuesdays at the Capitol April 5 and May 3. Lobbying tips, legislative briefings and debriefings, and personal visits to legislators' offices are all part of First Tuesdays at the Capitol.
First Tuesdays have been incredibly successful since they began in 2003. Lawmakers say seeing all those white lab coats in their offices and in the Capitol galleries and hallways make a difference. They listen when their hometown doctors show up in their offices.
"Caring for Patients in a Time of Change" is TMA's theme for this session. TMA President Susan Rudd Bailey, MD, says "this message reminds each of us – as well as our patients and state officials and candidates for office and the general public – that caring for patients is what we do. It's what we do regardless of the environment. It's what cements that bond with our patients and their families. And it's what makes our profession so special."
It is absolutely essential for medicine to engage the representatives and senators early and often. TMA and the TMAAlliance are calling on you. Be a medical lobbyist for a day. You will make a difference.
Action, Feb. 15, 2011