Read TMA's Legislative News Hotline

Want to stay fully informed of the latest dealings in the Texas Legislature during the session? Then read the TMA Legislative News Hotline.

TMA Legislative News Hotline: Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Surprise Billing Measure Signed: Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed into law a bill to address surprise medical bills, Senate Bill 507 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), and Rep. John Frullo (R-Lubbock). The TMA-priority law will expand the billing mediation process to all physicians and other providers providing out-of-network services at certain in-network facilities. It also expands mediation to out-of-network situations for emergency care. The law takes effect on Sept. 1.

Step Therapy Override Signed Too: Tuesday, Governor Abbott also signed into law the TMA-supported step therapy override measure, Senate Bill 680 by Senator Hancock. The bill empowers physicians to override health plans’ step therapy protocols, allowing them to continue prescribing an effective medication even if the insurer’s step therapy plan calls for a change in medication. The new law also takes effect on Sept. 1.



TMA Legislative News Hotline: Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MOC Day: Senate Bill 1148 by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway), the bill that would rein in mandatory maintenance of certification requirements, is on the House calendar for today. TMA urges physicians to use the TMA Grassroots Action Center to write state representatives in support of SB 1148 (600 have sent emails thus far!). Or on Twitter, tweet your rep.



TMA Legislative News Hotline: Monday, May 22, 2017

MOC: Senate Bill 1148 by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway), the bill that would rein in mandatory maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements, is on the House calendar for Tuesday. If you haven’t done it yet, please use the TMA Grassroots Action Center to write your state representative in support of SB 1148. On Twitter, tweet your rep.

Budget: The House-Senate Budget Conference Committee on Saturday evening revealed the long-awaited compromise state budget for the 2018-19 biennium. The committee, led by co-chairs Sen. Jane Nelson (R- Flower Mound) and Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R- Richmond), met for hours unveiling its work and finalizing it to accommodate Gov. Greg Abbott’s priorities.  More...



TMA Legislative News Hotline: Week Ending May 19, 2017

In this week’s TMA Legislative News Hotline video, we caught up with two physicians weighing in on bills still in play. One physician leader talks about improving how we monitor and deal with infectious diseases, like the Zika virus. Another top doctor discusses myths associated with a move that would broaden the sale of raw milk — which sailed through the Senate this week. We also run through a brief scorecard of some TMA-priority bills. Watch that and more in just a few minutes, in this week’s TMA Legislative News Hotline video.   

Budget Compromise Released: Late Saturday afternoon, the conference committee hammering out differences in the House and Senate versions of the proposed 2018-19 state budget announced a compromise. You can read about the big political fights (ie, using some of the Rainy Day Fund as the House proposed, and some accounting tricks as the Senate proposed) in this article from the Texas Tribune. Meanwhile, TMA analysts are scouring the budget documents to determine the fate of Medicaid funding, public health defenses, and medical education finances. 



TMA Legislative News Hotline: Friday, May 19, 2017

Telemedicine Bill One Step Closer to Law! The Senate on Thursday enrolled (gave final passage to) the bill that would regulate the practice of telemedicine in Texas. 

Texting Ban Passes! This afternoon, the Senate gave its final passage to House Bill 62 by Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) to ban texting while driving statewide. Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) is the Senate sponsor of the bill that passed 23-8. 



TMA Legislative News Hotline: Thursday, May 18, 2017

Step Therapy Override Awaits Abbott Signature: The TMA-supported step therapy override measure, Senate Bill 680 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), is now one signature away from becoming law. The Senate concurred with House amendments to the measure on Tuesday, and it now sits on Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. SB 680 would allow physician override of health plans’ step therapy protocols, allowing a doctor to continue prescribing an effective medication even if the insurer’s step therapy plan calls for a change in medication. 

Zika Testing: Philip Huang, MD, of Austin testified Wednesday in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in support of House Bill 3576 by Rep. Bobby Guerra (D-McAllen). The bill would shore up the state’s testing and screening capabilities related to infectious diseases, such as the Zika virus. TMA also submitted written remarks on the bill, in which it stressed that 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.