A Message from TMA President C. Bruce Malone, MD
Our top priority as the 2011 legislative session convened was to protect the patient-physician relationship in every aspect of the health care system. With an enormous budget deficit and special interest groups from hospitals to midlevel practitioners lining up to take on medicine, it felt like everyone wanted a piece of our profession. Many of our adversaries wanted control of physicians, our practices, and our patients. Others wanted to weaken the Texas Medical Board (TMB), jeopardizing Texas' hard-fought liability reforms and Texans' access to care. Some believed physicians were the cost drivers and needed restraint.
However, when the session ended, physicians crossed the finish line with the reins still in hand. Even better, lawmakers took major steps to protect and strengthen the patient-physician relationship from future outside interference.
Working with the legislature, we were able to minimize the Medicaid cuts to office-based physicians so that our hard-working doctors can continue to see the neediest Texas patients and continue their important work of improving the health of all Texans.
Here is a short list of TMA accomplishments:
- Fought off severe cuts to physicians' Medicaid payments.
Result: Physicians won't be forced to stop seeing Medicaid patients.
- Protected the patient-physician relationship against corporate interference.
Result: Patients' health care needs come before a corporation's bottom line.
- Defended clinical autonomy of physicians employed by rural hospitals, 501(a)s, and future health care collaboratives.
Result: Physicians and their patients have ultimate control of health care decision-making.
- Won Texas Medical Board reforms.
Result: The improved TMB disciplinary process is much fairer for physicians without endangering Texas' medical liability reforms. The anonymous complaint was eliminated.
- No scope-of-practice expansions.
Result: Midlevel practitioners and allied health professionals must stay within a scope of practice safely permitted by their education, training, and skills. The doctor is the trusted leader of the health care team.
- Safeguarded the public health system.
Result: Cuts to tobacco cessation and chronic disease prevention programs were mitigated.
- Improved immunization requirements.
Result: College students are protected from contracting meningococcal meningitis. ew vaccination policies ensure health workers won't spread infectious diseases to their patients.
Click here to read the entire report card.
Action, July 5, 2011