UNDER THE ROTUNDA
The House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond), launched into action today with its first meeting covering a smattering of topics from the Economic Stabilization Fund (also known as the “Rainy Day Fund”) to Hurricane Harvey recovery. The Rainy Day Fund is estimated to have a balance of more than $15 billion at the end of the next biennium.
The Senate budget-writing committee is in full swing and will be meeting daily for the foreseeable future. Both Representative Zerwas and Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) indicated discussions on the Texas Medical Board, other health care agencies, and Article II (which covers health and human services) will begin next week. We will bring you updates as they are available.
Two weeks into session, 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 1,700 bills filed. The Texas Medical Association is monitoring more than 360 of them ¾ in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of about 20 percent of all bills filed. Six weeks remain for bills to be filed.
HEALTHY VISION 2025
Today, we’re focusing on those portions of TMA’s advocacy agenda that aim to correct the root causes of physician burnout: government overregulation, check-the-box demands from electronic health records (EHRs), and insurance company meddling in patient care. TMA’s Healthy Vision 2025 ¾ released this week ¾ seeks to eliminate the burnout-inducing interference that wastes physicians’ time and delays their patients’ care. Recommendations to the Texas Legislature include:
- Forcing insurance companies to sharply limit prior authorization requirements and streamline the process for obtaining prior approval for medications or procedures;
- Preserving physicians’ authority to prescribe appropriate medications without pharmacies interfering or overriding their valid orders;
- Reducing the burden of required use of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program;
- Requiring EHR and health information exchanges to ensure their products can integrate data seamlessly among physicians, providers, and public health agencies; and
- Clarifying a 2017 state law to explicitly state that hospitals may not require maintenance of certification for staff privileges unless the physician members of the hospital’s medical staff affirmatively vote after Jan. 1, 2018, to do so.
SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK REDUX
Now that the legislature completed committee assignments, bills will quickly get moving in the remaining 120 days of session. Please plan to participate in TMA’s grassroots advocacy efforts with this 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 TMA’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.
TMA’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 Grassroots Action Center Alerts on specific bills via our new VoterVoice app; 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 John Manning, MD, of Troy. Dr. Manning graduated from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and is a member of TMA and the Bell County Medical Society.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Houston’s vaccination exemption rate should make you sick [Opinion – Editorial] – Houston Chronicle
Put the health back into health care [Opinion – Op Ed] – TribTalk
State unveils designs for new psychiatric hospital in San Antonio – San Antonio Express-News
Austin State Hospital to be replaced by 2023, state health officials say – Austin American-Statesman
Fear of Deportation Or Green Card Denial Deters Some Parents From Getting Kids Care – KUT, NPR
Injunction Lifted in Case to Oust Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid Provider – The Austin Chronicle
Balancing the Risks and Benefits of Opioids for Children – The New York Times
Steep Climb in Benzodiazepine Prescribing By Primary Care Doctors – NPR
FDA Says Up to Two Million People Exposed to Likely Carcinogens in Blood-Pressure Drugs – The Wall Street Journal