UNDER THE ROTUNDA
After a robust day of merriment and mirth, the pomp and circumstance of inaugural festivities quickly faded with the introduction of both House and Senate versions of the state’s 2020-21 budget, signaling a change in focus to the more serious.
Yesterday we told you about the House of Representatives’ draft budget. On Tuesday, the Legislative Budget Board delivered Senate Bill 1 to the governor and the Senate. The Texas Medical Association will share more detailed budget information and implications as we pore through the bills. At 989 pages, SB1 will take a few days to fully digest.
SB1 recommends biennial health and human services-related expenditures nearly equal to the House’s proposed budget, or just under $85 billion for the biennium. The difference is less than $3 million, yet it amounts to an approximate 9-percent increase over the Senate’s 2018-19 budget for Article II.
Different from the House budget, the Senate proposes increasing state general revenue funding for health care services by 3 percent. Federal funding for Article II is projected to be 13 percent higher.
As expected from discussions during the interim, the bill also calls for double-digit percentage increases from multiple funding sources for education and Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.
Senate committee announcements are expected any day. In the House, member preference cards were due to the speaker yesterday. The next step is for the speaker to match members to the committees they want and where he thinks they should serve.
In the meantime, bills continue to be filed in advance of the March 8 filing deadline, albeit more slowly than last session. The current count is more than 1,200 bills filed. TMA is monitoring more than 265 of them. Attend TMA’s Winter Conference to learn more about our legislative health care agenda for this session and how you can quickly and easily participate in our advocacy efforts.
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 Jose Hinojosa, MD, of Corpus Christi. Dr. Hinojosa graduated from the University of Iowa College of Medicine and is a member of the Bexar County Medical Society.
WHAT WE’RE READING
State health experts discuss 2019 threats to public health – KXAN-TV
State health officials call on legislators for funds to fight maternal deaths, tuberculosis – Austin American-Statesman
Addressing Healthcare Consumerism a Top Priority for Docs in 2019 – RevCycleIntelligence
Black and Hispanic youth are targeted with junk food ads, research shows -- CNN
Trump’s New Vision for Health Care [Opinion – Op Ed] – Forbes
Texas lawmakers could expand access to medical cannabis – Victoria Advocate