The Graveyard: Scope Bills That Are No Longer a Threat, Thanks to TMA
By Joey Berlin

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There are still 13 days left until the House of Medicine can officially breathe easy on lawmakers’ most misguided ideas. But thanks to the Texas Medical Association’s diligence at the Capitol, many of the most dangerous state bills of 2021 have officially gone to the Texas Legislature’s graveyard.

Last Thursday night’s deadline for all House bills to receive a second reading spelled official doom for legislation seeking increased practice autonomy for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), prescription authority for psychologists, and more.

But scope of practice was far from the only area where TMA’s duty to play defense got a little easier.

As the House deadline approached, the biggest immediate threat was House Bill 2856 by Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring), which would have prohibited physicians from declining to provide care to patients who won’t vaccinate.

TMA, the Texas Pediatric Society, and other medical specialty groups stepped up to protect physicians’ right to use their judgment to protect patients who can’t vaccinate, such as immunocompromised children. TMA sent a letter to House members Thursday urging them to reject the measure. Fortunately, the bill died.

These are some other bills TMA found troubling that are now safely put to rest:

  • House Bill 1462 by Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) would have granted psychologists authority to prescribe.
  • House Bill 2029 by Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) would have given APRNs independent prescribing authority and the authority to interpret diagnostic tests.
  • House Bill 2049 by Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) would have allowed pharmacists to diagnose and prescribe medications for strep throat and the flu.
  • House Bill 2180 by Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) would have allowed multiple people to simultaneously act as co-medical decisionmakers for another person, with simultaneous authority under medical power of attorney.
  • House Bill 3735 by Representative Howard would have barred a particular licensing board (such as the Texas Medical Board) from taking sanctioning action against a person licensed by another board.

In addition, medicine’s advocates struck a crucial deal last week to overhaul a bill that would have granted optometrists the authority to perform surgeries. Senate Bill 993 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) advanced to Senate passage without that language thanks to negotiations by the Texas Ophthalmological Association and the personal involvement of Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway).

 

Last Updated On

May 17, 2021

Originally Published On

May 17, 2021

Joey Berlin

Associate Editor

(512) 370-1393
JoeyBerlinSQ

Joey Berlin is associate editor of Texas Medicine. His previous work includes stints as a reporter and editor for various newspapers and publishing companies, and he’s covered everything from hard news to sports to workers’ compensation. Joey grew up in the Kansas City area and attended the University of Kansas. He lives in Austin.

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