Feb. 28 Hotline: Testimony Focuses On Mental Health, Prescriptive Authority
By Jennifer Perkins

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 UNDER THE ROTUNDA
Yesterday, the House Public Health Committee heard testimony on two bills the Texas Medical Association is following closely.

The first was House Bill 10 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), the committee chair. That bill would create the Texas Behavioral Health Research Institute (TBHRI), award grants to increase the number of psychiatric residency positions, and create a child and adolescent psychiatric nursing grant program.

During impassioned testimony in support of HB 10, San Antonio pediatrician Uchenna Umeh, MD, told lawmakers about some of her young patients who struggled with mental illness but whose families were unfamiliar with treatment options and opportunities, with tragic results.

“My experiences led me to focus my career on doing all that I can to educate young people about mental health and suicide,” Dr. Umeh said.

The second bill was House Bill 278 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress). That bill outlines how physicians supervise prescriptive authority agreements with advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). It was met with measured testimony, thoughtful questions, and no opposition, which is uncommon for scope-of-practice bills. TMA supports this bill.

The House and Senate will return Monday afternoon.

Nearly eight full weeks into session – and just more than one week before the bill filing deadline – more than 4,000 bills have been filed. TMA is monitoring more than 850 of them – in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed.

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 927 by Rep. James White (R-Hillister) would grant APRNs independent practice authority in Health Professional Shortage Areas. TMA opposes this bill. 
  • House Bill 1879 by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place) would require auto-enrolling women who lose Medicaid or CHIP perinatal coverage into the Healthy Texas Women program. TMA strongly supports this bill. 
  • House Bill 2085 by Rep. Jay Dean (R-Longview) would allow adults, parents, and guardians to sign a legal form prohibiting doctors or hospitals from administering or prescribing opioids. TMA supports this bill. 
  • Senate Bill 998 by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) would increase the physician education loan repayment program’s allowable repayment assistance amounts by $5,000 each year, bringing the total amount of repayment assistance available to $180,000. House Bill 2261 by Rep. Armando Walle (D-Houston) is the companion bill. TMA supports these bills.  

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 APRNs.
  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol – the next one is 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.

WHAT WE’RE READING

‘We hear you’: Lawmakers promise to fix Texas’ broken Medicaid managed-care system – The Dallas Morning News

Douglas W. Curran, MD: Let’s press real health-care solutions in the Texas Legislature – The Waco Tribune

Should Texas Increase the Legal Smoking Age to 21? – KXAS-TV

Gary Floyd, MD, guest columnist: Why can’t Texas legislature see the danger in allowing eye surgery without this? Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FDA Plans Multifaceted Response to Opioid-Abuse Epidemic – Wall Street Journal

Most North Texas Hospital Systems Are Clearing More Than 10 Percent in Yearly Profits – D CEO Healthcare

Should Texas require hands-free cell phone use while driving? Time to tell your lawmakers – Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Last Updated On

February 28, 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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