House Speaker’s Health Care Package Includes TMA Priority Bills
By Amy Lynn Sorrel

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Several of the Texas Medical Association’s legislative priorities were on display yesterday during a press conference by House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) and a coalition of bipartisan lawmakers, including Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress).  

Protecting new mothers, lowering drug costs, and ensuring continuous Medicaid coverage for kids were among the dozen bills in the speaker’s “Healthy Families, Healthy Texas” priority legislative package for health care, the goal of which he said is to make health care more affordable and accessible, and to improve health outcomes. 

Expanding telehealth and broadband access, he added, is the foundation to advancing many of those goals. 

TMA President Diana Fite, MD, praised the group “for sponsoring and supporting the important health care priorities listed. Included within the proposals are many TMA priority bills showing that these state leaders clearly understand Texas must undertake broad health care reforms to improve the health of all Texans.” 

The Healthy Families, Healthy Texas coalition and legislative package includes the following TMA-backed House bills: 

  • HB 4 by Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo) and HB 5 by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) would work together to make permanent the Medicaid and CHIP telemedicine flexibilities issued during the public health emergency, and to expand broadband access across Texas, respectively.
  • HB 290 by Rep. Philip Cortez (D-San Antonio) would improve continuity of care for children on Medicaid by streamlining eligibility checks.
  • HB 797 by Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) would institute regulatory changes needed to help homebound patients receive vaccines.
  • HB 15 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) would create the Brain Institute of Texas to promote research and investments in brain and mental health disorders.
  • HB 18 by Representative Oliverson would help reduce drug prices for uninsured patients by expanding access to rebates.
  • HB 2487 also by Representative Oliverson would codify in Texas law changes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services made requiring hospitals to publicly post prices for certain non-emergent services.
  • HB 133 by Rep. Toni Rose (D-Dallas) would provide 12 months of comprehensive post-partum coverage to mothers on Medicaid.
  • HB 4139 by Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) would establish the Office of Health Equity at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to research and collect data aimed at reducing health disparities. 

“From telemedicine to transparency to addressing disparities in health care, there are many beneficial proposals for Texas patients and the physicians who care for them,” Dr. Fite said. “We look forward to working with these state leaders to ensure more of our patients have access to high-quality, timely, equitable, and affordable health care.”  

Read about the entire Healthy Families, Healthy Texas legislative package here

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Last Updated On

April 08, 2021

Originally Published On

April 08, 2021

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