Effective Sept. 1: Lower Taxes, Greater Plan Accountability, More

This legislative session, the Texas Medical Association fought tirelessly to ensure physicians can continue to give their patients the best care possible. Several TMA-backed bills become law today, including these: 

  • House Bill 7 by Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) and Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) gives physicians a $200 annual tax cut by eliminating the annual occupational tax paid by physicians and a dozen other professions.

  • Senate Bill 760 by Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), increases oversight and accountability of Medicaid HMOs' network adequacy. SB 760 raises current Medicaid access criteria — based on mileage standards used for commercial health plans — to measures using the patient's geographic location and the number and distribution of health professionals within the region. TMA believes the new standards are more suitable for low-income populations. The bill would suspend enrollment by and payments to health plans if they fail to maintain adequate networks.

  • Senate Bill 97 by Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-McAllen) makes it a crime to sell e-cigarettes to someone younger than 18 or to someone who intends to give e-cigarettes to a minor, just as it's illegal to do so with regular tobacco products. The new law also bans e-cigarettes from public school campuses and school events.

  • House Bill 1621 by Rep. Greg Bonnen, MD (R-Friendswood) requires health plans to give physicians and patients 30 days' notice before denying a prescribed drug or intravenous medication. If appealed, health plans and utilization review organizations must provide expedited review by a physician of the same or similar specialty as the prescribing physician.

  • House Bill 1624 by Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo) provides another layer of health plan accountability and an avenue to help patients make informed choices about their health plan coverage. The measure strengthens requirements for health plans to publicly post on their websites their network directories and drug formularies. TMA worked with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society on this bill and HB 1621.

  • House Bill 1514 by Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville), requires insurers to clearly differentiate whether patients bought coverage through the ACA marketplace by displaying the letters "QHP" on their plan identification cards. TMA says the measure gives physicians an opportunity to educate patients about the benefits and limitations of the insurance coverage they purchase. About 85 percent of policies sold on the exchange qualify for a federal 90-day grace period, triggered once a patient with subsidized marketplace coverage misses a premium payment. Health plans must give patients 90 days to catch up, but they can recoup physician payments made in the latter 60 days of that grace period if patients are delinquent on their premium payments.

  • House Bill 3519 by Rep. Bobby Guerra (D-Mission) allows Medicaid payment for home telemonitoring of patients with two or more specific medical conditions and a history of frequent hospital admissions and emergency visits.

  • House Bill 2171 by Representative Sheffield requires the state's immunization registry, ImmTrac, to store childhood vaccination records until age 26 instead of age 18, to ensure they are available past college and into early adulthood, and to promote easier access to the information. ImmTrac kept childhood immunization records only until a person turned 18.

  • Senate Bill 1462 by Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) gives physicians authority to prescribe the lifesaving opioid antagonist naloxone to patients and family members or friends of those who may be at risk of an overdose.

  • House Bill 751 by Representative Zerwas sets requirements for prescribing and pharmaceutical substitution of biologic products.

Action, Sept. 1, 2015

Last Updated On

April 25, 2018

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