UNDER THE ROTUNDA
Today is the 122nd day of this session; 18 days remain.
Here’s a status check of several bills important to medicine that continue to move through the legislative process:
- House Bill 744 by Rep. Toni Rose (D-Dallas), which would allow continued Medicaid coverage for eligible women up to 12 months postpartum, is set on today’s House Calendar. Medicaid coverage currently expires 60 days after delivery, but the vast majority of maternal deaths occur from 61 to 365 days postpartum. TMA supports this bill.
- House Bill 1880 by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), which would establish time limits for corrections and updates to be made to insurers’ online network directories, is set on the House Calendar for today. TMA supports this bill.
- House Bill 39 by Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond), which would repeal the 2022 sunset date for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and extend it by 10 years, is set on the Senate Local Calendar for tomorrow. TMA strongly supports this bill.
- House Joint Resolution 12 also by Representative Zerwas, is the funding mechanism for HB 39. HJR 12 proposes a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to increase the maximum bond funding for CPRIT. The institute will exhaust its initial allotment of $3 billion by 2021; HJR 12 would replenish those funds, with voter approval. HJR 12 is set on the Senate Intent Calendar for today. TMA strongly supports this measure.
- House Bill 3345 by Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo), which would allow physicians to choose the best platform for providing telemedicine services, rather than having health plans dictate the platform, received final approval by the House 135-1 yesterday. HB 3345 awaits committee referral in the Senate. TMA strongly supports this bill.
- House Bill 2362 by Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), which would create an exception to the willful and wanton emergency medical care standard if a physician or other health care provider negligently causes a stable patient to require emergency medical treatment, received final approval on the House floor yesterday with a 107-36 vote. It awaits committee referral in the Senate. After extensive negotiation and revision, TMA and the Texas Alliance for Patient Access agreed to support this bill.
- House Bill 1065 by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) – which would create a grant program to develop residency training tracks to prepare physicians for practice in rural, underserved settings – was voted out of the Senate Higher Education Committee and awaits debate on the Senate floor. TMA submitted written testimony in support of this bill earlier this month.
- House Bill 2732 by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) would require physicians to receive from patients a signed disclosure form with an itemized statement of the amounts to be billed for nonemergency medical services before those services are provided. Otherwise, the physician would be prohibited from sending an unpaid bill to a credit reporting agency. HB 2732 is set on today’s House Calendar. TMA opposes this bill.
- 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, is on today’s Senate Intent Calendar. TMA vehemently opposes this bill and encourages you to let your senator know you oppose it, too, by sending a message through TMA’s Grassroots Action Center.
If a bill hasn’t passed out of committee by now, it is likely dead for this session. But legislative zombies aren’t uncommon creatures. Bills that aren’t voted out of committee can be proposed as amendments to legislation that is moving, a strategy that is not always successful. Conventional wisdom among legislators is that if a bill couldn’t get out of committee, it must not be worthy to be an amendment.
The next major hurdles: House bills must have won initial approval on the House floor by midnight tonight.
Tomorrow, Friday, May 10, is the deadline for the House to consider most House bills and House Consent Calendar bills for their final debate. Bills on the House Local Calendar have more time. The Senate deadlines come later this month.
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.
PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY
Today’s physician of the day is Lawrence Gibbs, MD, of Mansfield. Dr. Gibbs graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and is a member of both TMA and the Dallas County Medical Society.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Mothers dying needlessly: CDC says most pregnancy-related deaths can be prevented – USA TODAY
Cortez: Ensuring Health Coverage for Texas Children [Opinion] – Rio Grande Guardian
Feds Want To Show Health Care Costs On Your Phone, But That Could Take Years – Kaiser Health News
Texas House passes second, more limited bill expanding access to medical cannabis – The Texas Tribune
Severe alcohol-related liver disease on the rise, study finds – NBC News
Smallpox Was Eradicated, So Why Not Measles? – Houston Public Media