UNDER THE ROTUNDA
With the State of the State and the State of the Judiciary now delivered to legislators, the meaty work of specific budgetary and funding requests for 2020-21 is full steam ahead.
Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee heard public testimony on the health and human services portion (Article II) of the draft state budget from several Texas physicians, including:
- Antonio Falcon, MD, family medicine physician from Rio Grande City, regarding the need for physician Medicaid payment increases;
- Tom Mueller, MD, family medicine physician from Fayetteville, requesting 12 months continuous Medicaid coverage for pregnant and delivering women;
- Alexander Kenton, MD, neonatologist from San Antonio, regarding how inadequate Medicaid payment rates limit access to care for vulnerable patients; and
- Don Murphey, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist from Austin, on the Department of State Health Services’ funding requests.
TMA President Doug Curran, MD, family medicine physician from Athens; and Emily Briggs, MD, family medicine physician from New Braunfels and chair of the Texas Medical Association’s Committee on Reproductive, Women’s and Perinatal Health, submitted written testimony on the desperate need to improve both access to care for working Texans and maternal health outcomes.
Dr. Briggs implored the committee to “pursue federal authority to implement a tailored health benefits program for eligible uninsured women of childbearing age that provides 12 months’ continuous coverage for preventive, primary, and specialty care coverage, including behavioral health services, to women before and after pregnancy.”
The full House Appropriations Committee heard specifics from both the Department of Family and Protective Services and Health and Human Services Commission leadership on funding requests for mental health — one of the governor’s emergency items — and Medicaid and CHIP, respectively, whose budgets are increasing as more Texans enroll in those programs.
The House and Senate will reconvene Monday afternoon.
Three-plus weeks into session, bill filing continues as the March 8 filing deadline nears. The current count is more than 2,230 bills filed. The Texas Medical Association is monitoring more than 450 of them – in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Just over 30 days remain for bills to be filed — the rate of filing likely will accelerate now that committees are set.
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.
TODAY’S GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY TIP
Nothing drives home the importance of an issue like a personal story. When calling or writing your legislators, tell them specifically how the issue affects you, your colleagues, and patients. (Students can offer credible anecdotes from their own medical school experiences.)This is the best way to persuade lawmakers that what may seem like an abstract or arcane point really affects their constituents deeply. Get more tips in our Grassroots Advocacy Guide.
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 Larry Kravitz, MD, of Austin. Dr. Kravitz graduated from George Washington University School of Medicine and is a member of both the Travis County Medical Society and TMA.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Texas’ 6 confirmed measles cases include 4 children who were being vaccinated – The Dallas Morning News
Texans Can Appeal Surprise Medical Bills, But The Process Can Be Draining – KUT, NPR
Tobacco use among teens is preventable. Let’s do something about it. [Opinion – Op Ed] – TribTalk
Scooter Madness in Austin Puts Safety Concerns in High Gear – Kaiser Health News
New ruling to come in Texas, Planned Parenthood legal fight – Austin-American Statesman
Baylor and Memorial are breaking up. Here’s why the failed hospital merger may be for the best – The Dallas Morning News
Can the U.S. end the HIV epidemic in a decade, as Trump pledged? – STAT News
States ranked by percent of adults with no personal physician – Becker’s Hospital Review
Abbott Names School Finance, Property Taxes, Mental Health As Emergency Items in State Of The State – KUT