Feb. 21 Hotline: TMA Backs School Mental Health Funds
By Jennifer Perkins

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BUDGET UPDATE
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III (which covers education) met yesterday, giving TMA the chance to submit testimony supporting the Texas Education Agency’s Safe and Healthy Schools Initiative, known as Rider 74.

Rider 74 would appropriate $37 million to equip Texas public schools with the resources needed to improve student mental health.

“Given that children spend roughly one-third of each week day of the school year in school, schools are key allies in promoting student mental health,” according to the Texas Medical Association’s statement.

We anticipate Senate Finance subcommittee assignments will be made soon, allowing the Senate to examine funding requests at a more granular level.

UNDER THE ROTUNDA
The House Public Health Committee, chaired by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), held its initial hearing yesterday. While initial hearings are customarily organizational, Representative Thompson also elected to receive testimony from several health care-related entities. TMA will follow the activities in this committee closely – stay tuned for opportunities to participate in grassroots advocacy efforts.

The Senate adjourned until Monday afternoon.

More than six weeks into session — and two and a half weeks before the filing deadline — more than 3,100 bills have been filed. TMA is monitoring almost 700 of them — in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed. Fewer than 100 days remain in this legislative session.

BILLS OF NOTE

This list will change frequently during the session, but here are some bills TMA is watching now. Keep an eye on your email inbox for Action Alerts as we work to pass or kill bills. 

  • House Bill 1256 by Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) would allow first responders to access and view their immunization records during a disaster so they can take necessary precautions and not delay assisting in a disaster zone due to unknown vaccination status. 
  • House Bill 1622 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress) would permit in-office physician dispensing of non-controlled medications. 
  • House Bill 1361 by Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston) would permit long-term care facilities to create a tracking system for de-identified employee and resident immunization rates. House Bill 1423 by Rep. Bobby Guerra is identical. 
  • Senate Bill 830 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would require emergency response entities to develop a policy specifying which immunizations are required for first responders. Exemptions are permitted. Contrary to what some critics have claimed, this bill does not mandate any immunizations for first responders. 

TMA supports each of these bills. 

HEALTHY VISION 2025

Healthy Vision 2025 — released late last month — 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

When you secure a meeting with a legislator, it may seem tempting to make the most of your limited time with him or her and pack as many topics as possible into the conversation. The best practice is to stick to one issue and explore it in depth, whether you connect by telephone, letter, or email. Address additional issues in subsequent communications. Get more tips in our Grassroots Advocacy Guide.

ARE YOU A LEGISLATIVE JUNKIE?

If talk of bills and committees and backroom deals initiate tachycardia, you might want to join TMA Leading Advocates. It’s TMA’s exclusive Facebook group for legislative advocacy. Enjoy special features, news in advance, and a community of TMA members who are excited to talk about the Texas legislature and medicine's advocacy priorities. This closed group is open only to TMA and TMA Alliance members, and TMA and county medical society staff. Join today.

TAKE ACTION

TMA’s 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas.

Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health.

TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Tell your senator and representative why you oppose independent practice for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).
  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol – there are three left;
  • Testify before a House or Senate committee;
  • Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
  • When called to do so, respond to Grassroots Action Center alerts on specific bills via our new VoterVoice app; and/or
  • Make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests. TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session.

PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY

Physician of the Day is a service the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) provides the Texas Legislature. Each day the legislators are in session, the group names a physician to serve in the Capitol. This tradition started in 1971 and has continued every legislative session since, including special sessions.

Today’s physician of the day is Mark Malone, MD, of Gilmer. Dr. Malone graduated from the Texas A&M College of Medicine and is a member of the Harrison County Medical Society.

WHAT WE’RE READING
‘Alarming’ number of people received restricted fentanyl, study says – CNN

FDA slams medical procedure. Now, local company hits pause – Houston Chronicle

Harris County ranked No. 1 for highest STD cases, state report says – KTRK-TV

Mothers Erased – KXAN-TV

Behind the Scenes, Health Insurers Use Cash and Gifts to Sway Which Benefits Employers Choose – ProPublica, NPR

A New Old Model That Could Change How Employees Receive Primary Care – D CEO Healthcare

Last Updated On

February 21, 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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