As always, the TMA professional staff will complement the relationships that physician leaders have built with their senators and representatives as they work to promote TMA’s 2017 agenda. Tops on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, telemedicine, the Texas Medical Board, and public health priorities.
The TMA co-wrote a letter featuring “medicine’s recommendations for crafting a biennial budget that will promote a healthier Texas.”
“…Of paramount concern to our members and the patients they care for is that Texas enact a compassionate budget that rejects deep cuts in the state’s health care safety net, and public and mental health systems, cuts that ultimately will cost Texas taxpayers more, harm physicians’ ability to care for Texans, and make our state a less advantageous place to do business,” the letter reads. “Furthermore, as more people make Texas their home, the backbone of the state’s health care system — the physician workforce — is straining to keep pace. Texas, thus, must preserve investments made in 2015 to expand graduate medical education (GME) capacity to ensure medical students who study here can train here, increasing the likelihood they’ll ultimately practice here too.”
Review the Budget Priorities Here
Less than a month-and-a-half remains until the Texas Legislature adjourns, and recent weeks provided encouragement for many of medicine's foremost interests in the 2017 session.
MOC Day: Senate Bill 1148 by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway), the bill that would rein in mandatory maintenance of certification requirements, is on the House calendar for today. TMA urges physicians to use the TMA Grassroots Action Center to write state representatives in support of SB 1148 (600 have sent emails thus far!). Or on Twitter, tweet your rep.
MOC: Senate Bill 1148 by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway), the bill that would rein in mandatory maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements, is on the House calendar for Tuesday. If you haven’t done it yet, please use the TMA Grassroots Action Center to write your state representative in support of SB 1148. On Twitter, tweet your rep.
Budget: The House-Senate Budget Conference Committee on Saturday evening revealed the long-awaited compromise state budget for the 2018-19 biennium. The committee, led by co-chairs Sen. Jane Nelson (R- Flower Mound) and Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R- Richmond), met for hours unveiling its work and finalizing it to accommodate Gov. Greg Abbott’s priorities. More...
In this week’s TMA Legislative News Hotline video, we caught up with two physicians weighing in on bills still in play. One physician leader talks about improving how we monitor and deal with infectious diseases, like the Zika virus. Another top doctor discusses myths associated with a move that would broaden the sale of raw milk — which sailed through the Senate this week. We also run through a brief scorecard of some TMA-priority bills. Watch that and more in just a few minutes, in this week’s TMA Legislative News Hotline video.
Budget Compromise Released: Late Saturday afternoon, the conference committee hammering out differences in the House and Senate versions of the proposed 2018-19 state budget announced a compromise. You can read about the big political fights (ie, using some of the Rainy Day Fund as the House proposed, and some accounting tricks as the Senate proposed) in this article from the Texas Tribune. Meanwhile, TMA analysts are scouring the budget documents to determine the fate of Medicaid funding, public health defenses, and medical education finances.
Telemedicine Bill One Step Closer to Law! The Senate on Thursday enrolled (gave final passage to) the bill that would regulate the practice of telemedicine in Texas.
Texting Ban Passes! This afternoon, the Senate gave its final passage to House Bill 62 by Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) to ban texting while driving statewide. Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) is the Senate sponsor of the bill that passed 23-8.
Step Therapy Override Awaits Abbott Signature: The TMA-supported step therapy override measure, Senate Bill 680 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), is now one signature away from becoming law. The Senate concurred with House amendments to the measure on Tuesday, and it now sits on Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. SB 680 would allow physician override of health plans’ step therapy protocols, allowing a doctor to continue prescribing an effective medication even if the insurer’s step therapy plan calls for a change in medication.
Zika Testing: Philip Huang, MD, of Austin testified Wednesday in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in support of House Bill 3576 by Rep. Bobby Guerra (D-McAllen). The bill would shore up the state’s testing and screening capabilities related to infectious diseases, such as the Zika virus. TMA also submitted written remarks on the bill, in which it stressed that screening, testing, reporting, and monitoring of infectious diseases “is a core function of public health.” Disease surveillance allows for the implementation of prevention and treatment activities.
One Step Closer: The TMA-supported step therapy override measure, Senate Bill 680 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), is now one signature away from becoming law. The Senate concurred with House amendments to the measure on Tuesday. SB 680 would allow physician override of health plans’ step therapy protocols, allowing a doctor to continue prescribing an effective medication even if the insurer’s step therapy plan calls for a change in medication. The bill will now head to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
From maintaining physicians' right to bill for their services and cracking down on narrow health insurance networks, to cutting more Medicaid red tape and making more room for doctors-in-training, the Texas Medical Association's 2017 legislative agenda aims to build on past achievements. A tough budget year and wholesale review of the state's health professions licensing boards could generate some challenges, while the presidential election results should renew conversations over reforming Medicaid and health care delivery overall.
Doctors understand it’s frustrating to have health insurance coverage but still receive unexpected medical bills. Watch this video to learn about Stanley and the surprise medical bills he received… and learn why he received them.
Recent questions about Advocacy:
Ask your question nowSee all Advocacy Questions
TMA made its voice heard Friday on Medicaid eligibility and other issues as the Senate Committee on Finance's Workgroup on Health Care Costs held its first meeting. Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown) is chairing the workgroup, which began examining state agencies’ health-related budgets and expenditures, with the goal of finding areas to cut while preserving services.
As state lawmakers begin preparing for the 2017 legislative session, TMA and four state specialty societies delivered a detailed, five-page document with significant recommendations to improve the Texas Medicaid program.
We appreciate the governor’s designation of the Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, and we offer our support and expertise to this diverse group. While clearly there is substantial institutional and organizational strength in the task force, we encourage you to recognize the need to include physicians who directly practice in clinical settings.
Texas has been a leader in telemedicine-done right. Physicians and lawmakers continue to examine telemedicine's ability to expand patient access to care via technology while ensuring safe, high-quality health care, improving the reimbursement process, and a clear-cut comprehensible policy and regulation guideline.
What's New in Telemedicine?
Got Texas Legislature questions? Call or email the Knowledge Center.