TMA Members Testify on DSHS, UIL Sunset Review

Two TMA member physicians testified June 25 before the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services on the Sunset Advisory Commission's Staff Report on the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). And Houston neurologist Kim Monday, MD, provided preliminary comments on the University Interscholastic League (UIL) sunset review

TMA Trustee Gary Floyd, MD, testified that TMA agrees with the Sunset Advisory Commission's recommendation to reduce the size and footprint of DSHS. "To achieve this, we agree shrinking the regulatory tasks of DSHS is needed," he said.

Dr. Floyd expressed concern over the commission's proposal to eliminate licensure of medical physicists, radiologic technologists, perfusionists, and respiratory therapists from DSHS operations.

"Each of these health care providers has a specialized and unique role in patient care and is a valuable member of the health care team," he said, adding "an appropriate state licensure process [should] be in place to ensure each and every professional group is maintaining its qualifications and upholding standards of practice."

TMA opposes placing any health care profession within the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), stating the department "does not have appropriate leadership, resources, or background in health care policy or public health matters." In the testimony, Dr. Floyd suggested the Texas Medical Board (TMB) as an alternative, should it be impossible to keep the licensure and regulatory functions of these health professionals in their current location. 

And William S. "Chip" Riggins Jr., MD, executive director of the Williamson County and Cities Health District, testified on DSHS' management of the state's public health system. Overall, TMA agrees with the Sunset Advisory Commission that Texas has a fragmented public health system. 

Dr. Riggins called for a "deliberate, more comprehensive focus on Texas' public health infrastructure," adding that "lack of statutory clarity leaves DSHS with little ability to influence standards and basic level of services provided by local health departments." 

In her testimony on UIL's sunset review, Dr. Monday agreed with sunset staff recommendations regarding steroid testing. "TMA supports science and evidence-based testing and recommends a full review of current testing programs, such as the steroid testing initiative. The review should assess cost-benefit and scientific value as well as the depth of illegal steroid use in Texas athletes," she said.

Dr. Monday also addressed TMA's concerns over the Sunset Commission's lack of attention to the required pre-participation exam for Texas athletes and recommended the UIL dedicate additional resources to collecting aggregate data on injuries among athletes.

Action, July 1, 2014