UNDER THE ROTUNDA
Today is the 128th day of the session.
In the waning days of this session, it is important to remember that it is much easier to stop a bill than to pass one, and frequently bills pass incrementally over several sessions. Perfect must not be the enemy of the good as the calendar winds down.
Having said that, medicine is strategically working every angle to salvage important bills that have stalled in the legislative process.
This week Senate bills will move in the House and vice-versa; the House must hear all Senate bills by midnight May 22. Meanwhile, lawmakers will continue to negotiate the final 2020-21 state budget until the last possible moment. The House and Senate must concur on the budget by midnight May 26.
The Texas Medical Association remains steadfast in its request for more funding for Medicaid, women’s health, mental health, and graduate medical education (GME). We will report developments as they happen.
Bills on House and Senate calendars occasionally roll over to the next day if time runs out to debate them on the floor. Here’s a status check of several bills that continue to move through the legislative process.
- 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 – was heard in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee today and left pending. TMA continues to support this bill.
- House Bill 2099 by Rep. Stan Lambert (R-Abilene), which would prohibit a health plan from changing a patient’s drug coverage upon plan renewal if the patient has been stable on that drug, also was heard in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee today and left pending. TMA submitted written testimony in support of this bill in March.
- House Bill 2327 by Rep. Greg Bonnen, MD (R-Friendswood), which would require both greater prior authorization transparency and that utilization reviews be conducted by a licensed Texas physician, was heard in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee today and left pending. Austin oncologist Debra Patt, MD, testified in support of this bill today.
- 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 three years – was heard in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee today and left pending. TMA testified in support of HB 3911 last month.
- Senate Bill 1264 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) – which would require baseball-style arbitration for most surprise medical bills, removing the patient from the billing dispute and resolution process – was voted out of the House Insurance Committee yesterday and awaits a debate on the House floor. SB 1264 continues to be a work in progress as it moves through the legislative process. TMA supports the revised bill and is working with the bill’s authors on improvements to the language.
TMB Sunset/Corporate Practice of Medicine
- House Bill 1504 by Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), the Texas Medical Board (TMB) Sunset bill that would extend the TMB for another 12 years, is on the Senate Calendar for today. TMA testified in support of this bill earlier this session.
- House Bill 1532 by Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas), which would protect employed physicians’ clinical autonomy and independent medical judgment from hospital administrators’ interference, will be heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee tomorrow. TMA testified in support of this bill in March.
- Senate Bill 21 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) – which would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and vape products to 21 years, excluding active duty military – is set for debate in the House today. TMA testified in strong support of SB 21 earlier this session and is cautiously optimistic the bill will pass.
- House Bill 1111 by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), which would direct the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to establish new pregnancy medical home pilots in Texas, is set for a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee tomorrow. TMA testified in support of this bill last month.
- Senate Bill 750 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), which would improve maternal access to postpartum care through the Healthy Texas Women Program, was voted out of the House Public Health Committee yesterday and awaits debate on the House floor. TMA testified in support of this bill earlier this session.
- Senate Bill 436 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), which directs the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to develop and implement initiatives to assist pregnant and postpartum women with opioid-use disorder and newborns with neonatal-abstinence syndrome, was voted out of the House Public Health Committee yesterday and awaits debate on the House floor. This bill specifically refers to the TexasAIM Opioid Bundle that evolved out of the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force and is strongly supported by TMA.
- House Bill 10 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) would create the Texas Mental and Behavioral Health Research Institute, award grants to increase the number of psychiatric residency positions, and create a child and adolescent psychiatric nursing grant program. It was voted out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee yesterday and awaits debate on the Senate floor. TMA submitted written testimony in support of the bill .
- House Joint Resolution 5, also by Representative Thompson, is the funding mechanism for HB 10. HJR 5 would allocate $100 million in each fiscal year to the Texas mental and behavioral health research fund that HB 10 would establish, as long as the state collects more than $30.5 billion in sales, excise, and use tax revenue in that fiscal year. HJR 5 was heard in the Senate Finance Committee yesterday and left pending. If HJR 5 passes, Texans will vote on the constitutional amendment in November. TMA supports this bill.
- Senate Bill 10 by Senator Nelson – which would create the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium, a collaboration of health-related institutions of higher education and the Statewide Behavioral Health Coordinating Council to improve the effectiveness of and access to behavioral health care for Texas youth – was voted out of the House Public Health Committee yesterday and awaits a debate on the House floor. TMA testified in support of this bill in early May.
- Senate Bill 670 by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway), which would require Medicaid to cover telemedicine services, won preliminary approval in the House yesterday and awaits a final vote today. TMA supports this bill.
Prescription Monitoring Program
- House Bill 3285 by Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville) would permit telehealth treatment for substance use, provide grants to law enforcement agencies to provide opioid antagonists, develop and implement an opioid misuse public awareness campaign, and collect and analyze data regarding opioid overdose deaths. HB 3285 was voted out of the House 119-18 late last week and awaits committee referral in the Senate. 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, is set for a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee tomorrow. TMA testified in support of HB 1848 in March and continues to support the bill.
- Senate Bill 1519 by Senator Kolkhorst, which would establish a statewide council on long-term care facilities, is set for a hearing in the House Human Services Committee today. TMA submitted written testimony in support of the bill last month.
Graduate Medical Education
- 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 – is on today’s Senate Calendar. TMA submitted written testimony in support of this bill earlier this month.
- Senate Bill 1378 by Senator Buckingham, which would require new medical schools to account for peak class sizes – and not merely inaugural class sizes – when planning residency slots, has been sent to the governor. TMA supported this bill.
TMA is watching each bill, committee substitute, and amendment for any changes, or for an opportunity to amend a stalled TMA-supported bill. 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 during the regular legislative session and the interim.
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 Sylvia Garcia-Beach, MD, of Austin. Dr. Garcia-Beach graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and is a member of both TMA and the Travis County Medical Society.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Legislature extends cancer agency; issue is now up to voters – Houston Chronicle
50,000 Texas children a year lose Medicaid over paperwork. A bill to change that died. – Houston Chronicle
A Republican legislator’s tirade gives a misleading impression of the vaccine choice movement [Opinion] – Houston Chronicle
MAPPED: See which Texas districts and private schools have high vaccine exemption rates – KXAN-TV
Leave health care decisions to patient and doctor, not cost-cutting insurance industry [Opinion] – Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Commentary: Let’s give new Texas moms a lifeline [Opinion] – Austin American-Statesman
Why Racial Gaps In Maternal Mortality Persist – NPR
Health industry to clash over surprise medical bills – The Hill
Report shows costs of medical procedures all over the map – San Antonio Express-News
44 states accuse drug companies of price-fixing – The Hill