Legislative Hotline: Help Stop Bad End-of-Life Bill From Moving Forward
By Jennifer Perkins

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ALERT ON END-OF-LIFE BILL: PLEASE ACT NOW

Senate Bill 2089 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) – which would require hospitals, physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals to provide what physicians believe amounts to medically inappropriate and potentially harmful care for an unlimited period of time – could come up in the Texas Senate as soon as today.

The Texas Medical Association is vehemently opposed to this bill and encourages you to help us stop the bill from making any further progress. Please contact your  state senator today and ask him or her to oppose SB 2089.

Specifically, SB 2089 would:

  • Require a hospital – even after its committee of medical ethicists and physicians, under the dispute resolution process, determines further treatment would harm the patient – to continue providing medical interventions until the patient is transferred to another facility that is willing to provide medical interventions.
  • Prolong and increase suffering for our patients and their loved ones without medical benefit.
  • Force physicians to perform painful medical interventions indefinitely on terminally ill patients.
  • Require treatments such as artificial nutrition and hydration, even if the hydration is harming the patient, as in the case of an already fluid-overloaded patient with renal failure or heart failure who can’t be dialyzed.
  • Negatively impact acceptance of transferred critically ill patients. Physicians at tertiary care centers may be reluctant to accept critically ill patients from smaller hospitals if doing so commits the physician and facility to open-ended and indefinite interventions irrespective of the physician’s reasonable medical judgment that the interventions are harmful to the patient and are medically inappropriate. 

The current Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA) provides a fair, rational process for resolving such disputes without arbitrarily forcing physicians or family members to abandon their consciences. We must preserve TADA and stop SB 2089.

BILLS MOVING

House bills must be out of committee by Monday, May 6 – the day before our last First Tuesdays this year – to be considered on the House floor this session. Then the process repeats in the other chamber. Time is indeed running short to get bills passed this session.

Bills that haven’t yet moved out of committee may be proposed as amendments to legislation that is moving.

Some of the numerous bills medicine is tracking made progress yesterday in a lengthy floor session. Below is an update on a few bills TMA is tracking:

  • House Bill 3911 by Rep. Hubert Vo (D-Houston), which would require the Texas Department of Insurance to examine the network adequacy of preferred provider organizations and exclusive provider organizations at least once every two years – received preliminary approval on the House floor yesterday with a 110-27 vote. TMA testified in support of HB 3911 last month.
  • House Bill 1532 by Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas), which would protect employed physicians’ clinical autonomy and independent medical judgment from hospital administrators’ interference, received near-unanimous approval on the House floor yesterday with a vote of 144-2. The bill now heads to the Senate. TMA testified in support of HB 1532 in March.
  • House Bill 2453 by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), which would expand state oversight of Medicaid managed care organizations, was voted out of the House Human Services Committee yesterday and awaits a hearing on the House floor. TMA testified in strong support of this bill last month.
  • House Bill 342 by Rep. Philip Cortez (D-San Antonio), which would provide 12 months’ continuous coverage for children on Medicaid – as is already in place for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – was voted out of the House Human Services Committee on Tuesday and awaits debate on the House floor. TMA testified in support of HB 342 in March and continues to strongly support this bill.
  • Senate Bill 752 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), which would provide liability protection for physicians who volunteer in the aftermath of disasters, was voted out of the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee yesterday and awaits a hearing on the House floor. TMA continues to support this bill.
  • House Bill 1273 by Rep. Bill Zedler (R-Arlington), which would prohibit the denial of payment for preauthorized services, yesterday received preliminary approval from the House on a voice vote. TMA supports this bill.
  • House Bill 1848 by Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth), which would establish infection control programs in long-term care facilities, received preliminary approval yesterday on a 142-2 vote. TMA testified in support of HB 1848 in March and continues to support the bill.
  • House Bill 2041 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress), which would require freestanding emergency room facilities to post conspicuous notices that the facility or the physician might be out of network, along with written disclosure of possible observation and facility fees, received preliminary approval on the House floor yesterday with a vote of 131-5. TMA continues to support this bill.
  • House Bill 3041 by Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prarie), which would allow for renewal of a prior authorization if it expires before the patient receives the medical service or procedure, received preliminary approval on the House floor yesterday with a vote of 79-58. TMA supports this bill.
  • House Bill 4039 by Representative Turner of Grand Prarie, which would require new medical schools to account for peak class sizes – and not merely inaugural class sizes – when planning residency slots, will be on the House Local and Consent Calendar tomorrow, meaning it faces little to no opposition. TMA continues to support HB 4039.

TMA is watching each bill, committee substitute, and amendment for any changes. It is not uncommon for revised legislation to prompt a revised position from TMA, particularly when bad bills become better bills through rewriting or amendments. If you have a question about a specific bill, contact the advocacy team via the TMA Knowledge Center by email or call (800) 880-7955, Monday-Friday, 8:15 am to 5:15 pm CT.

HEALTHY VISION 2025

Healthy Vision 2025 – released in late January – 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

Just as you’d like more direct face-to-face time with your patients, lawmakers find face-to-face time with constituents valuable. But they, too, have limitations. When you schedule an in-person meeting with your legislators, 15 minutes (possibly 20) is a realistic expectation for your meeting. But be aware that chances are good you’ll have to wait when you arrive at your legislator’s office – even for a meeting with a staff member. Build the prospect of delay into your schedule; don’t take it personally. Use the time to relax or chat with a staff member who offers conversation. On the other hand, don’t interrupt a busy staff person or an overworked receptionist trying to cope with ringing telephones. Get more tips in our Grassroots Advocacy Guide.

PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY

Today’s physician of the day is Namita Bhardwaj, MD, of Houston. Dr. Bhardwaj graduated from the Ross University School of Medicine in Barbados and is a member of both TMA and the Harris County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING

US lawmakers push bipartisan bill to raise the federal minimum buying age for tobacco to 21 – CNBC

Texas, Fort Worth youth at risk of suicide need help, perspective [Opinion]Fort Worth Star-Telegram

UT Southwestern is on pace to get an important funding victory from the Texas Legislature [Opinion] – The Dallas Morning News

The ER Doc-Blue Cross Blue Shield Conflict is More Complicated Than It SeemsD CEO Healthcare

Is Measles Here to Stay? – NPR

Two ways Texas can save money and reduce teen pregnancies [Opinion]TribTalk

For our state hospitals, we need to go all the way [Opinion]TribTalk

Last Updated On

May 02, 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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