UNDER THE ROTUNDA
The House and Senate floor sessions yesterday were brief and primarily ceremonial. The governor and the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas were formally invited to address a joint session of the legislature next Tuesday, the Texas Medical Association’s first First Tuesdays at the Capitol of the session.
The House Appropriations Committee yesterday received a brief overview of funding requests for Medicaid, mental health, school safety, and Child Protective Services. In-depth hearings on Article II, which is health and human Services-related spending, begin next week. Which representatives will serve on the Article II subcommittee has not been announced.
The Senate Finance Committee is meeting daily for the foreseeable future, with discussions on the Texas Medical Board and other health care agencies scheduled for Monday. Invited testimony for Article II will be presented Tuesday. We will bring you updates as they are available.
Three weeks into session, bill filing continues as the March 8 filing deadline nears, albeit more slowly than previous sessions. The current count is nearly 1,800 bills filed. The Texas Medical Association is monitoring more than 375 of them ¾ in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Five and a half weeks remain for bills to be filed — the rate of filing likely will accelerate as time runs down.
The House and Senate both recessed until next week; the House returns Monday and the Senate on Tuesday.
HEALTHY VISION 2025
Today, TMA focuses on its legislative plans to address the state’s chronically high uninsured rate and improve its stressed Medicaid system.
“We want access to care for all Texans,” TMA President Doug Curran, MD, said during a Healthy Vision 2025 sneak preview for TMA leaders Saturday. “That means proper payment for Medicaid service and insurance coverage for our working poor. And that means more federal dollars ¾ dollars Texans have been sending to Washington for years but that get spent in other states.”
TMA’s prescription to enhance access to health care includes innovative coverage models for the working poor, competitive Medicaid payment rates, a revolution of simplicity and transparency for all of the state’s health programs, further investments in cost-effective ways to grow the physician workforce, and more progress on telemedicine.
Want to help spread and promote TMA’s Healthy Vision for Texas? Become a TMA social media ambassador.
SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK REDUX
Now that the legislature completed committee assignments, bills will quickly get moving in the remaining 118 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 – we’ll see you next week;
- 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 David Schneider, MD, of Dallas. Dr. Schneider graduated from Boston University School of Medicine and is a member of TMA and the Dallas County Medical Society.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Healthcare Job Growth, Demand Expected to Remain Strong Through 2019 – HealthLeaders
Texas Medical Association Awards Local Garden Nonprofit – D CEO Healthcare
Tarrant County sees drop in flu-like illnesses in January – Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Vaping among teens, kids “threatens five decades of public health gains,” experts say – CBS News
The Opioid Crisis is America’s Deadly New Normal – U.S. News & World Report