TMA Legislative News Hotline: Thursday, May 25, 2017


House Passes Maintenance of Certification Bill Allowing Hospitals to Use MOC: Wednesday afternoon the House overwhelmingly gave final approval to the maintenance of certification (MOC) bill, Senate Bill 1148 by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway). Lawmakers on Tuesday night removed hospitals from the bill via an amendment. That caveat means hospitals could still use MOC status to determine physicians’ eligibility to practice in their institutions.

SB 1148 as written would have prohibited health plans AND hospitals from using MOC to differentiate among physicians for payment, contracting, or credentialing. But in its current form, the bill still prohibits the state from using MOC as a requirement for state licensure or renewal, or insurance participation — but permits health facilities to use MOC.

After yesterday’s 140-4 final House passage, the Senate must consider whether to accept the lower chamber’s amendments or take the bill to a House-Senate conference committee. The Senate placed the bill on its items eligible calendar Wednesday.

ACO Bill Passes Senate: The Senate on Wednesday passed House Bill 3124 by Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell), 21-10. On Monday, Senators added several non-germane and likely controversial amendments.

HB 3124 would allow doctors in physician-led accountable care organizations (ACO’s) to receive and share physician-specific comparison data and information. 

The House must now consider those Senate amendments and either concur or seek a conference committee to resolve the differences.

Zika Testing Passes Test: The Senate overwhelmingly passed House Bill 3576 by Rep. Bobby Guerra (D-McAllen) on Wednesday, after adding an amendment. The bill would shore up the state’s testing and screening capabilities for infectious diseases, such as the Zika virus. TMA told lawmakers physicians support the bill, because screening, testing, reporting, and monitoring of infectious diseases “is a core function of public health.” Disease surveillance allows for the implementation of prevention and treatment activities. 

House Finally Passes CPRIT Sunset: Wednesday, the House gave final approval to Senate Bill 224, Sen. Kirk Watson’s (D-Austin) Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) sunset bill, on a 106-40 vote. The bill extends the sunset date of the cancer research organization from 2021 to 2023, while also adding two years to its eligibility to allocate funds, to 2022.

The Texas Cancer Partnership, a group of cancer-fighting organizations — of which the Texas Public Health Coalition and therefore TMA is a member — submitted a letter supporting CPRIT’s extension.

The Senate must now consider the House amendments and either concur for final passage or seek a conference committee to try and reach a compromise.

Its House sponsor is Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place).

Maternal Mortality/Morbidity Task Force Extension Passes: The bill to continue the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force at the Department of State Health Services also received final approval from the House on Wednesday. The lower chamber passed Senate Bill 1929 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), 145-3. The task force is helping the state identify the causes of Texas’ high and growing rates of maternal mortality and morbidity. TMA urged support of the bill to combat maternal deaths and their root causes, which include mental health issues and opioid abuse. The Senate must now consider the House amendments and either concur for final passage, or seek a conference committee to try and resolve the differences.

Mental Health Screenings for Adolescents: The Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to House Bill 1600 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), which would allow Medicaid to pay physicians to conduct mental health screenings during each annual well-child exam, under the Texas Health Steps program. TMA explained in committee testimony that this bill improves the current scenario in which designated Medicaid procedure codes for this screening may be used only once in a young patient’s lifetime (between ages 12 and 18). The bill will head to Governor Abbott’s desk for his signature.

Medicaid Vendor Drug Program Bill is Enrolled: Lawmakers have enrolled, or finally passed, House Bill 1917 by Rep. Richard Raymond (D-Laredo), to keep the Medicaid Preferred Drug List (PDL) under Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) oversight. In Wednesday’s Hotline we incorrectly reported the Senate needed to concur with House amendments to the bill, but we’ve learned the Senate did not amend the bill in approving it on Monday, so it is enrolled and can now head to Gov. Greg Abbott for approval into law. The bill places the PDL under HHSC auspices until 2023, after which managed care organizations would manage the formulary and the PDL. The bill’s Senate sponsor is Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown).


TMA’s “2017 Prescription to Keep Texas Healthy” legislative agenda can help — it describes TMA’s top-priority issues this session in a concise, bulleted layout to inform you for discussions with lawmakers


The physician of the day at the Capitol is Mark Lane, MD, of Lampasas. Dr. Lane graduated from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. He is a member of TMA and the Burnet-Lampasas County Medical Society.


Therapists, parents urge state officials to restore Medicaid moneyAustin American-Statesman

Telemedicine set to expand across Texas – WOAI

G.O.P. Health Bill Would Leave 23 Million More Uninsured in a Decade, C.B.O. SaysThe New York Times

Providers want Trump to stay out of tort reformModern Healthcare


TMA Letters and Testimonies

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