UNDER THE ROTUNDA
The Texas Legislature’s first called special session ended one day early, when the House, and then the Senate, adjourned Sine Die. Fortunately, the imperative bills passed in time. Here’s a quick update — more detail can be found in a previous Hotline.
Governor Abbott signed the Senate version of the Texas Medical Board (TMB) Sunset bills — SB 20 (which extends the life of TMB) and Senate Bill 60 (which provides funding for the agency) — last Friday, the same day they passed on third reading in the House. The bills’ passage meant an end to the Texas Health Care Doomsday scenario.
TMA President Carlos J. Cardenas, MD, thanks the governor and lawmakers for taking action to prevent a health care catastrophe in this Doomsday-averted video message.
Most of the focus of state lawmakers was on the 20 additional items Gov. Greg Abbott added to the special session agenda.
Senate Bill 11 by Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), and sponsored in the House by Rep. Greg Bonnen, MD (R-Friendswood), awaits the governor’s signature. It will restrict the application of do-not-resuscitate orders to competent patients when it is contrary to their wishes and death is not imminent. TMA previously has sought clarifications in the legislation to protect physicians who comply in good faith as well as to protect physicians’ right to uphold their moral conscience in complying with care demands. Numerous iterations of the complicated legislation were discussed, drafted, and circulated.
TMA finally agreed to remain neutral on language that addressed many of the association’s major concerns.
As requested by Senator Perry, the Senate concurred with changes made to SB 11 so a conference committee was avoided.
Other key issues TMA tracked:
- Several bills addressed the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force, which will study trends and conditions associated with pregnancy-related deaths, and extend the task force’s life for four years. The Senate agreed to House amendments to Senate Bill 17 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), and the bill has been sent to the governor.
- House Bill 21 and House Bill 30, school finance bills by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), could redirect up to $563 million — $351 million of which is designated for Medicaid managed care organizations — to shoring up teacher recruitment, classroom funding, and retired teacher health care benefits. Both HB 21 and HB 30 stipulate the “loan” will be repaid. Both bills were sent to the governor for his signature.
- While neutral on House Bill 215 by Rep. Jim Murphy (R-Houston) regarding additional reporting requirements for abortions, TMA sought to reinforce that in an emergency situation, the physician’s focus must be on saving the patient. HB 215 awaits the governor’s signature.
The special session ended one day early. More than 580 bills were introduced in a condensed session, and TMA was monitoring 134 of them as the special session progressed. Stay tuned for a weekly summary.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Early gavel at Texas House forces Senate’s hand on property tax reform — Austin American-Statesman
Gov. Abbott slams House, doesn't rule out second special session — The Texas Tribune
Bill regulating do-not-resuscitate orders heads to governor's desk — The Texas Tribune
Rapidly growing clusters of ongoing HIV transmission in Texas — KCBD
63 million Americans exposed to unsafe drinking water — USA Today