UNDER THE ROTUNDA
Texas physicians on Tuesday urged lawmakers to reduce the state’s unacceptably high maternal mortality and morbidity rates by expanding women’s access to care. A TMA member physician also pushed for more appropriate safeguards for residents of long-term care facilities.
The House Human Services Committee heard testimony on House Bill 744 by Rep. Toni Rose (D-Dallas), which would allow continued Medicaid coverage for eligible women up to 12 months postpartum. Medicaid coverage currently expires 60 days after delivery, but the vast majority of maternal deaths in Texas occur from 61 to 365 days postpartum.
Lubbock obstetrician-gynecologist Moss Hampton, MD, testified about the importance of access to care after and between pregnancies to address chronic disease, behavioral health, and substance-use issues.
“Unmanaged diabetes, for example, increases several fold the risk of birth defects, such as neural tube abnormalities, miscarriage, and preterm birth,” Dr. Hampton said. “Yet if women receive early diagnosis and comprehensive treatment and management of chronic diseases before pregnancy, these poor birth outcomes can be dramatically reduced, thus improving the lives of mothers and babies while also reducing Medicaid costs.”
Austin geriatrician Michael Krol, MD, testified in opposition to House Bill 2050 by Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), which would add undue burdens on physicians trying to administer antipsychotic medications to patients in long-term care facilities.
Currently, consent is provided when patients are admitted to long-term care facilities, but HB 2050 would require consent each time a medication is administered, which could take away a physician’s ability to treat a patient in a timely fashion.
In his testimony, Dr. Krol cited an example of an incident that might not rise to the level of “imminent harm,” but does require intervention, such as a patient trying to pull out a feeding tube.
“Many times, relatives and contacts for these patients are disengaged and unavailable. Valuable time can be lost attempting to contact an authorized representative, leaving patients, physicians, and the health care providers at risk,” Dr. Krol said. “Failure to act expediently and appropriately from a medical standpoint is far riskier than administering an antipsychotic or neuroleptic medication.”
Both of these bills were left pending in committee and will be voted on at a later time.
On Monday, the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond), approved both House Bill 1, the House’s budget bill for 2020-2021, and Senate Bill 500 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), which is the Senate’s supplemental appropriations bill. Both of those bills are scheduled for debate on the House floor on March 27.
BILLS THAT ARE MOVING
The House on Wednesday unanimously approved House Bill 111 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D-Clint), which would ensure that school employees have the necessary information and training to protect children with cognitive and developmental disabilities from child abuse. The bill, which TMA supported, will now be considered by the Senate.
On Tuesday, the House Public Health Committee approved House Bill 278 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress), which outlines how physicians supervise prescriptive authority agreements with advanced practice registered nurses. HB 278 was sent to the House Local and Consent Calendars Committee, where it should pass easily.
GETTING A BILL MOVING
With a flurry of activity, the bill filing deadline finally passed, and lawmakers filed 7,514 bills. TMA is monitoring 1,908 of them, although that will likely change. Bills must be referred to committee before they can be heard on the floor and voted on by the full body. Then the process repeats in the other chamber. Bill referral will be complete this week. We have passed the half-way point; sixty-eight days remain in this 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 1576 by Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) would allow Medicaid to contract with a transportation network company, such as Uber, for nonemergency transportation to or from a medical appointment. Senate Bill 1667 by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway) is the companion. TMA supports these bills.
- House Bill 1518 by Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) would prohibit the over-the-counter sale of dextromethorphan products, mainly cough syrups, to minors. Senate Bill 349 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) is the companion. TMA supports these bills.
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:
- Tell your senator and representative why you oppose independent practice for APRNs.
- Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol – there are two left: April 2 and May 7;
- 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
Today’s physician of the day is John Manning, MD, of Temple. Dr. Manning graduated from The University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine at Galveston, and is a member of both TMA and the Bell County Medical Society.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Should Texas raise the smoking age from 18 to 21? Nation’s largest tobacco company agrees – The Dallas Morning News
Working full time for health coverage? Many who want part-time jobs are stymied by costs – USA TODAY
40% of people with HIV transmit most new infections in the US, a new analysis says. Here’s the plan to stop the spread – CNN
Cardenas: A Red Letter Day for the Rio Grande Valley – Rio Grande Guardian
Rates of colon cancer rising in young adults – KVUE-TV
2nd Case of Measles Confirmed in Collin County – KXAS-TV