UNDER THE ROTUNDA
Today is the 123rd day of this session; 17 days remain. Those 17 days will be a flurry of activity and behind-the-scenes maneuvering to keep bills moving toward passage.
Yesterday was a marathon floor session in the House, and today will be more of the same as bills live or die by the clock. 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, received preliminary approval on the House floor yesterday and awaits a final vote in the House today. 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 1504 by Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), the Texas Medical Board (TMB) sunset bill that would extend TMB for another 12 years, is on the Senate Calendar for today. TMA testified in support of this bill earlier this session.
- 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, received preliminary approval by the House yesterday and awaits final debate. TMA supports 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, is on today’s Senate Calendar. TMA submitted written testimony in support of this bill earlier this month.
- 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, was voted out of the Senate 29-2 and now heads to the governor. 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 won unanimous approval in the Senate today and will appear on the Nov. 5 general election ballot. TMA strongly supports this measure.
- 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 set 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.
- Senate Bill 1742 by Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio), which would require health plan directories to clearly identify which physician specialties are in network at network facilities, was voted out of the House Insurance Committee and awaits debate on the House floor. SB 1742’s companion, House Bill 2630 by Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Carrollton), awaits debate in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee.
If a House bill hadn’t had its initial debate on the House floor by midnight yesterday, it is dead for this session. Among yesterday’s casualties:
- House Bill 2732 by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) would have required 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. TMA opposed this bill.
- House Bill 4013 by Rep. Rick Miller (R-Sugar Land) would have created a new retail tax on e-cigarettes and vape products. The proceeds of the tax would have been dedicated to improving enforcement of current law that prohibits minors from buying these products. TMA and the Texas Public Health Coalition supported this bill.
Bills that didn’t get passed by the deadline on their own, however, 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 hurdle: The House must consider most House bills and House Consent Calendar bills for their final debate by midnight, Friday, May 10 – tonight.
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 Larry Kravitz, MD, of Austin. Dr. Kravitz graduated from the George Washington University School of Medicine and is a member of both TMA and the Travis County Medical Society.
WHAT WE’RE READING
HB 1110 may expand Medicaid for women to a year after delivery [Opinion] – San Antonio Express-News
Bill taxing e-cigs, vapes dies in Texas House after Big Tobacco, Gov. Greg Abbott push late changes – The Dallas Morning News
Report: Reluctance To Vaccinate Hurting Texas’ Ability To Respond To Public Health Threats – Houston Public Media
Why so many primary-care doctors across America are closing their doors – MarketWatch
Texas House to debate bills tackling opioid crisis – KXAN-TV
Texas Mulls Telehealth Pilot for Early Childhood Intervention Services – mHealthIntelligence
CDC: 1.1 million more Americans lost health insurance coverage in 2018 – USA TODAY
Walmart raises age to buy tobacco to 21 – The Hill
Vaccines are ‘sorcery’? How one Texas legislator is hurting public health [Opinion] – The Dallas Morning News
Trump pushes to end surprise medical billing for hospital care – The Washington Post