Legislative Hotline: Patient-Friendly Insurance Bills Top Today’s Calendar
By Jennifer Perkins

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UNDER THE ROTUNDA

Today is the 130th day of the 140-day session.

Time is quickly running out for bills to pass. Fortunately, physicians’ priority bills are still moving toward the finish line.

The House and Senate both have less than one week to vote on bills, which must be complete by midnight May 22.

Meanwhile, lawmakers will continue to negotiate the final 2020-21 state budget; the deadline for agreement between the two chambers is 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), and will continue to vigorously plead our case.

Bills set on House and Senate calendars occasionally roll over to the next day if time runs out to debate them on the floor, and that happened again yesterday. Here’s a status check on numerous bills that continue to move through the legislative process.

Insurance

  • House Bill 1832 by Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Carrollton) – which would prohibit health plan coverage of an emergency care claim dependent on utilization review, protecting the prudent layperson standard – is set for a hearing today in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. TMA supports this bill.
  • Senate Bill 1742 by Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) – which would require health plan directories to clearly identify which physician specialties are in network at network facilities – is set for floor debate on today’s House Calendar. TMA testified in support of this bill.

Maternal Health

  • House Bill 25 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D-Clint), which would create a pilot program to streamline nonemergent medical transportation services in Medicaid and allow children to accompany their pregnant mothers on doctor’s visits, is on today’s Senate Calendar. TMA testified in support of this bill last month.
  • 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, was heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee yesterday and left pending. TMA testified in support of this bill last month.  

Tobacco

  • 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 – was voted out of the House yesterday 110-36. It now returns to the Senate for consideration of the amendments representatives added to the bill. TMA testified in strong support of SB 21 earlier this session.

Corporate Practice of Medicine

  • House Bill 1532 by Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas), which would protect employed physicians’ clinical autonomy and independent medical judgment from hospital administrators’ interference, was heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee yesterday and left pending. TMA testified in support of this bill in March.  

Graduate Medical Education/Workforce

  • House Bill 80 by Rep. Lina Ortega (D-El Paso) would have the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) conduct a study and develop an inventory of existing doctoral-level health science education programs. THECB would then issue a report to the legislature with recommendations for establishing new programs and for expanding existing ones. HB 80 is set on today’s Senate Calendar. TMA supports this bill.  

Telemedicine

  • Senate Bill 670 by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway), which would require Medicaid to cover telemedicine services, is set on today’s Senate Items Eligible Calendar for consideration of amendments the House added to the bill. TMA supports this bill.
  • House Bill 871 by Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo), which would expand the use of telemedicine to rural trauma hospitals, is set on today’s Senate Calendar. TMA supports this bill.

Prescription Monitoring Program/Opioids

  • House Bill 3284 by Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville) –  which would require electronic prescribing of opioids unless a waiver is granted, and establish an advisory committee to the State Board of Pharmacy –  is set for a hearing tomorrow in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. TMA supports this bill.
  • House Bill 2088 by Rep. Jay Dean (R-Longview), which would require health care professionals dispensing controlled substance prescriptions to provide written notice of the closest safe disposal location and other safe disposal methods available, was heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee yesterday and left pending. TMA supports this bill.

Long-Term Care/Immunizations

  • House Bill 1848 by Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth), which would establish infection control programs in long-term care facilities, was heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee yesterday and left pending. TMA testified in support of HB 1848 in March and continues to support the bill.
  • House Bill 1256 by Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), which would grant first responders and their employers access to first responders’ vaccination records on the statewide immunization registry during a disaster, passed in the yesterday and will now head to the governor. TMA testified in support of this bill last month.
  • House Bill 1418, also by Representative Phelan, which would provide first responders and emergency services personnel with their immunization status when they seek certification or recertification, also won Senate approval yesterday and will now head to the governor. TMA testified in support of this bill last month.

Professional Liability

  • 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 – is set for a hearing tomorrow in the Senate State Affairs Committee. After extensive negotiation and revision, TMA supports the 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 Joe Ventimiglia, MD, of Dallas. Dr. Ventimiglia graduated from the Duke University School of Medicine and is a member of both TMA and the Dallas County Medical Society.

Last Updated On

May 17, 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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