UNDER THE ROTUNDA
Tuesday was a day of comity and celebration as the governor and lieutenant governor were feted with inaugural festivities, including a flyover and 19-gun salute. In a brief joint ceremony, the governor was officially sworn into office for his second term, and the House and Senate both recessed until Wednesday.
Senate committee announcements are expected soon. In the House, member preference cards were due to the speaker today. The next step is for the speaker to match members to the committees they want and where he thinks they should serve.
On Monday, the Legislative Budget Board delivered House Bill 1 to the governor and the House of Representatives. This session, the budget will originate in the House. A separate Senate budget proposal will be filed within the next few days. The Texas Medical Association will apprise you of details as we pore through them.
Counting state and federal funds, HB1 slightly increases funding for Health and Human Services by 1.5 percent to about $85 billion for the 2020-21 biennium, or about 34.3 percent of the state’s budget. However, the House proposed reducing state general revenue funding for health care services by 3 percent. The House recommended funding additional initiatives to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.
Overall Medicaid funding is more than the last biennium, mostly because of steady increases in Medicaid caseload. A higher proportion of the program is expected to be covered by federal funds rather than state General Revenue Funds. Full funding for anticipated increases in cost due to inflation, higher utilization, or increased acuity is not included. And the 2018-19 biennium has a funding hole to backfill to complete 2019 expenditures.
As expected from discussions during the interim, the bill also calls for increases from multiple funding sources for education and Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.
In the meantime, bills continue to be filed in advance of the March 8 filing deadline. The current count is nearly 1,200 bills filed. TMA is monitoring 265 of them.
New legislative sessions mean office relocations for many senators and representatives; find your lawmakers’ offices on this list.
SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK REDUX
While the legislature continues organizing and naming committees, and before we ask you to participate in TMA’s grassroots advocacy efforts, here’s a quick refresher on how a bill becomes a law in Texas.
ARE YOU A LEGISLATIVE JUNKIE?
If talk of bills and committees and backroom deals initiate tachycardia, you might want to join TMA Leading Advocates. It’s the Texas Medical Association's exclusive Facebook group for legislative advocacy. Enjoy special features, news in advance, and a community of TMA members who are excited to talk about the Texas Legislature and medicine's advocacy priorities. This closed group is open only to TMA and TMA Alliance members, and TMA and county medical society staff. Join today.
The Texas Medical Association's 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas.
Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health.
For more details, see “On Call at the Capitol” in the January issue of Texas Medicine.
TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help:
- Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol;
- Testify before a House or Senate committee;
- Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
- When called to do so, respond to Action Alerts on specific bills; and/or
- Make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests. TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session.
PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY
Physician of the Day is a service the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) provides the Texas Legislature. Each day the legislators are in session, the group names a physician to serve in the Capitol. This tradition started in 1971 and has continued every legislative session since, including special sessions. This program is organized by TAFP with support from TMA and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Physician of the Day is introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives each day, and his or her name becomes a permanent part of the official legislative record.
Today’s physician of the day is DeVry Anderson, MD, of Austin. Dr. Anderson graduated from Jefferson Medical College and is a member of the Travis County Medical Society.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Medicaid, opioids, and abortion: Health care issues to expect this Texas legislative session – The Texas Tribune
Trump Administration Plans Effort to Let States Remodel Medicaid – The Wall Street Journal
New UT psychiatric hospital will be specially designed for longer-term patients – Houston Chronicle
Many Teens’ Suicidal Thoughts Go Undetected by Parents – MedPage Today
Opioid overdoses now deadlier than car crashes, researchers find – The Hill
The flu has sickened about 7 million in the U.S. so far, CDC estimates – The Washington Post
Uninsured Texans must cobble together health care and it’s little wonder when people end up in the ER [Opinion – Commentary] – The Dallas Morning News
Hospitals’ Solution to Surprise Out-Of-Network Bills: Make Physicians Go In-Network – Modern Healthcare
Studies of Alzheimer’s and brain diseases vital for Texas [Opinion – Op Ed] – San Antonio Express-News