Physicians will face less bureaucratic hassle from the Texas Medical Board (TMB) under a trio of Texas Medical Association-backed bills that are waiting for Gov. Rick Perry's signature.
"These three bills provide much-needed due process protections for physicians without endangering the 2003 liability reforms that have meant so much to Texas," TMA President C. Bruce Malone, MD, said in a letter (PDF) urging Governor Perry to sign the bills into law.
One of the most important things the bills would do is prohibit the filing of anonymous complaints.
The bills also would:
- Require the board to notify the physician when insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, or third-party administrators file a complaint;
- Increase the time for a physician to respond to a complaint notice from 30 days to 45 days;
- Allow physicians to tape the proceedings of a TMB informal settlement conference;
- Allow TMB to require a remedial action plan rather than impose a fine for a minor administrative violation;
- Institute a seven-year statute of limitation on bringing a disciplinary action, mirroring the TMB rule on how long doctors need to keep a patient's medical record; and
- Bind TMB to the ruling of an administrative law judge in a proceeding supervised by the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
"In time, I believe these reforms will go down in TMA history as comparable to the Patient Protection Act of 1997, and the liability reform and prompt pay bills of 2003," Dr. Malone said.
The bills are: House Bill 680 by Rep. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown) and Sens. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and Joan Huffman (R-Southside Place); Senate Bill 191 by Senator Nelson and Rep. Susan King (R-Abilene); and SB 227 by Senator Nelson and Representative King.
"We truly appreciate the dedication, hard work, and legislative savvy demonstrated by Senators Nelson and Huffman and Representatives King and Schwertner," Dr. Malone said. "Once outside parties jeopardized the passage of another reform bill, SB 190, by knocking it off of the House calendar, these legislators worked to make sure the changes at the Texas Medical Board still would occur. Quick thinking and action on their part resurrected the important provisions of SB 190 by adding them on to HB 680.
"They persevered despite loud protests that covered up self serving legislation not in the best interest of the vast majority of Texas doctors."
Dr. Malone urges TMA members to call the four bill sponsors and thank them. Their numbers are:
- Senator Nelson: (512) 463-0112
- Senator Huffman: (512) 463-0117
- Representative King: (512) 463-0718
- Representative Schwertner: (512) 463-0309