TMA Legislative News Hotline: Thursday, May 28, 2015


When the Texas Legislature finally adjourns for good on Monday, they call it “sine die” — Latin for “without (another) day.” That would make today “sine calendarium,” as both the House and the Senate are at that point where their rules say they can no longer consider new bills on a daily calendar. Instead, they enter the waiting mode — waiting for bills they passed to come back from the other chamber with or without amendments; waiting to hear whether the other chamber accepts the amendments or wants a conference committee; and waiting for conference committee reports. Those reports are the results of negotiations between five senators and five representatives on a bill. The reports can’t be amended during floor debate but can be voted only up or down.

Today we could see floor debates on the conference committee report on the 2016-17 state budget. As we told you last week, the budget negotiators approved a big increase in funding for new and existing graduate medical education slots. They also turned down a House proposal to reinstate Medicare-parity payments for certain Medicaid primary care payments provided by primary care physicians. Hotline will keep you up to date on budget and tax issues as we move through the final five days of the session.


Health Plan Directories: The Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would stiffen requirements for health plans to post accurate and up-to-date drug formularies and network directories on publicly accessible Internet pages. The measure is House Bill 1624 by Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo) and Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo). It now returns to the House for consideration of amendments added in the Senate.

Utilization Review Appeals: Also on Wednesday, the Senate passed House Bill 1621 by Rep. Greg Bonnen, MD (R-Friendswood), and Senator Seliger. It requires a 30-day advance notice of an adverse utilization review determination involving prescription drugs or IV infusions. It also requires expedited appeals of such a determination by a reviewer of the same or similar specialty who was not previously involved in the case. This bill also now returns to the House for consideration of amendments added in the Senate.

Medicaid Eligibility: House Bill 839 by Rep. Eliott Naishtat (D-Austin) and Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) also won passage in the Senate yesterday. It will require the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to suspend, rather than terminate, Medicaid or CHIP coverage for a child admitted to a juvenile detention facility and reinstate coverage within 48 hours of the child’s release. This will help prevent gaps in coverage for these children, many of whom have ongoing behavioral and/or physical health conditions. This bill, which TMA supports, also goes back to the House for consideration of changes the Senate made.


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