Feb. 26 hotline: House and Senate Are Full Speed Ahead
By Jennifer Perkins

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 BUDGET UPDATE

The House subcommittee considering health and human services in the state’s 2020-21 budget met today to consider testimony, facts, figures, and needs that organizations like the Texas Medical Association and state agencies have detailed this session. 

The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), was still meeting at press time. Look for an update in tomorrow’s TMA Legislative Hotline.

UNDER THE ROTUNDA
The House Public Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), heard testimony today on House Bill 76, which would require cardiac assessments of high school student athletes.

TMA has opposed similar measures in previous sessions that would have required preparticipation electrocardiograms (EKGs) for all school student athletes, a test that not every student athlete needs and one that could result in false positives.

This year, Representative Huberty has worked closely with TMA and other stakeholders to substantially improve the bill.

The committee is expected to consider a substitute bill that requires schools to provide information on EKG testing instead of making the testing mandatory. It also would require EKGs to be administered and evaluated by an individual whose scope of practice legally allows them to do the testing.

In a busy hearing, other bills were heard on school-based mental health professionals and training requirements for school leadership to recognize sexual abuse and human trafficking.

We will continue to monitor the committee’s progress and report back to members.

Tomorrow, the House Higher Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) is scheduled to receive testimony on House Bill 80 by Rep. Lina Ortega (D-El Paso).

HB 80 calls on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to conduct a study and develop an inventory of existing doctoral-level health science education programs. The THECB would then issue recommendations for establishing new programs and for expanding existing ones in a report to be submitted to the legislature.

And the House Public Health Committee will hear House Bill 278 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress) regarding how physicians supervise prescriptive authority agreements with physician assistants. TMA supports this bill. HB 278 is the first of more than three dozen scope-of-practice bills to be heard this session.

TMA will be listening closely. We will keep you alerted to opportunities to participate in grassroots advocacy efforts.

More than seven weeks into session — and 10 short days before the filing deadline — more than 3,600 bills have been filed. TMA is monitoring almost 900 of them — in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Ninety days remain in this legislative session.

BILLS OF NOTE

This list will change frequently during the session, but here are some bills TMA is watching now. Keep an eye on your email inbox for Action Alerts as we work to pass or kill bills. 

  • House Bill 1880 by Representative Davis would establish time limits for corrections and updates to be made to online insurer network directories. TMA supports this bill. 
  • House Bill 2041 by Representative Oliverson would require free-standing emergency room facilities to post conspicuous notices that they might be out-of-network, along with written disclosure of what observation and facility fees could result from a patient’s visit. TMA supports this bill. 
  • House Bill 1798 by Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) would permit therapeutic optometrists to perform eye surgery and give the Texas Optometry Board sole authority to regulate these practices, instead of the Texas Medical Board. TMA opposes this bill. 
  • House Bill 455 by Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) would direct the State Board of Education to develop policies on student recess, encouraging physical activity. TMA supports this bill. 

HEALTHY VISION 2025

Healthy Vision 2025 — released late last month — 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

When you secure a meeting with a legislator, it may seem tempting to make the most of your limited time with him or her and pack as many topics as possible into the conversation. The best practice is to stick to one issue and explore it in depth, whether you connect by telephone, letter, or email. Address additional issues in subsequent communications. 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.

TAKE ACTION

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:

  • Tell your senator and representative why you oppose independent practice for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).
  • 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 Eric Alford, MD, of Brenham. Dr. Alford graduated from the Texas A&M College of Medicine and is a member of the Washington-Burleson County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING 

‘Pain & Profit’ investigation spurs sweeping bipartisan fix for Texas’ Medicaid managed-care mess – The Dallas Morning News

State of Texas: Lawmakers continue focus on maternal deaths – KXAN-TV

Hospitals test ways to address social needs – Modern Healthcare

Commentary: Seizing the opportunity to transform our state hospitals – Austin American-Statesman

West Dallas medical training program gives young adults seeking second chance a shot – The Dallas Morning News

Texas senator files bill aimed at addressing Alzheimer’s awareness, care – KVUE-TV

As Austin district weighs new sex ed curriculum, bills surface – Austin-American Statesman

Last Updated On

February 26, 2019

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Jennifer Perkins

Advocacy Communication Manager

(512) 370-1469
Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins, a native Texan and University of Texas Longhorn, has worked in politics, public affairs, and advocacy for more than two decades, covering a litany of subject areas and a number of states, using a marketing-oriented communications style as informed by her MBA. Jennifer has two dogs, is a college football fanatic, loves to entertain, and prefers to be outdoors..

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