UNDER THE ROTUNDA
Today was a busy day at the Capitol, highlighted by the Texas Medical Association’s first of four First Tuesdays at the Capitol of the session. Many white coats watched from the House Gallery as Gov. Greg Abbott delivered his State of the State address.
Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee heard testimony on funding the Texas Medical Board for the 2020-21 biennium. This morning, the committee began its deliberations on health care (Article II) funding with invited testimony. Public testimony will be accepted tomorrow, and TMA will submit written comments regarding the Department of State Health Services requests for additional funding for items such as data surveillance and reporting, and the state’s public health laboratory.
The House Appropriations Committee begins deliberating Article II tomorrow, covering Medicaid, Health and Human Services Commission contracting, state hospitals, and Child Protective Services, among other topics.
In other House news, Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place) was reappointed chair of the House Appropriations Article II subcommittee, and Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville) was appointed vice chair. Putting a strong supporter of medicine and a physician in these two slots is excellent news for the house of medicine.
Three full weeks into session, bill filing continues as the March 8 filing deadline nears. The current count is nearly 2,100 bills filed. The Texas Medical Association is monitoring nearly 450 of them ¾ in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Four and a half weeks remain for bills to be filed — the rate of filing likely will accelerate as time runs down.
HEALTHY VISION 2025
Healthy Vision 2025 – released last week – is TMA’s all-inclusive, health care roadmap for legislators.
Want to help spread and promote TMA’s Healthy Vision for Texas? Become a TMA social media ambassador.
SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK REDUX
With committee assignments complete and committee referrals for bills underway, the urgency for your grassroots participation will increase. Different phases of the legislative process invite and require different kinds of participation. Review this quick refresher on how a bill becomes a law in Texas so you can be a more effective grassroots advocate for TMA.
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.
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 – there are three left;
- 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.
Today’s physician of the day is Naomi Davis, MD, of McAllen. Dr. Davis graduated from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit and is a member of the Hidalgo-Starr County Medical Society.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Drug-resistant ‘superbug’ a health threat in Travis County – KVUE-TV
Obesity Tied to Higher Cancer Rates in Younger People – The New York Times
VERIFY: Texas has the most uninsured people in America. That’s crushing rural hospitals – WFAA-TV
Texas doctor convicted of illegally dealing painkillers – Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Measles outbreak: Children of anti-vaxxers are asking how to get vaccinated without their parents knowing – Newsweek
Proposed legislation highlights sexual assault issues in Texas – FOX 7 Austin
Texas optometrists “just roll our eyes” over treatment restrictions in the state – The Texas Tribune