Mar 30, 2011

TMA Testifies on Concussions, Workforce, Vaccines

TMA Legislative News Hotline

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Rep. Dan Branch
(R-Dallas)
TMA TESTIFIES
Physician workforce: Charles B. Mullins, MD, a retired cardiologist from Austin, will testify today in support of House Bill 2908 by Rep. Dan Branch (R-Dallas). HB 2908 would direct the Higher Education Coordinating Board to determine how many graduate medical education slots are needed in Texas to keep up with the number of medical school graduates. Dr. Mullins will tell members of the House Higher Education Committee that Texas needs more graduate medical education slots so we can keep bright, young physicians in Texas.

Athletic concussions: Thomas Spinks, MD, a pediatric neurosurgeon in Austin, codirector of the Dell Children’s/Seton Center on Concussions and a member of TMA’s Ad Hoc Comitttee on Student Athlete Concussions, will testify before the House Public Health Committee today. He will testify on HB 2038 by Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo), which addresses the prevention, treatment, and management of concussions affecting young athletes participating in interscholastic events. TMA is working with the bill sponsor to ensure Texas schools have a solid concussion management program in place.

Meningitis vaccinations: Carol Baker, MD, an infectious disease specialist from Houston with an impressive resume, testified before the Senate Higher Education Committee today.  Dr. Baker is chair of the U.S. Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP), executive director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research, as well as Professor of Pediatrics, Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Baker did a fantastic job testifying in support of Senate Bill 1107 on behalf of TMA, The Immunization Partnership, and the Texas Pediatric Society. The legislation authored by Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) would require proof that students have received a meningitis vaccination at least five years prior to their college entry.

Pertussis vaccinations: TMA submitted written testimony in support of HB 3336 by Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston). The measure would require that new moms receive information on pertussis (and the ability to get a Tdap vaccination if needed) before leaving the hospital. The House Public Health Committee will discuss the bill this evening.

BILL UPDATE
Neonatal Intensive Care: A few bills are before the House Public Health Committee today with the goal of reducing the cost of neonatal intensive care services for Medicaid. TMA supports:
  • HB 2636 by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), which directs the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to establish a commission to study neonatal intensive care units.
  • HB 1983 by Representative Kolkhorst, which directs HHSC not to reimburse physicians and providers who perform nonmedically induced deliveries prior to the 39th week for women covered under Medicaid. It also directs HHSC to conduct a study on the impact of the policy on infant health, on the frequency of infant admissions to neonatal intensive care units, and on readmission rates.
Bills Passed by Senate Committees:
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed several bills yesterday that TMA supported. These bills include:
  • SB 7 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville), which focuses on ways to save money in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Many provisions in the bill would reduce Medicaid and CHIP payments when patients are readmitted for preventable illnesses, establish copayments for unnecessary emergency department visits, provide incentives for hospitals and physicians to reduce waste and improve quality of care, and study whether pay-for-performance is workable for long-term care.
  • SB 8 by Senator Nelson would establish a statewide plan for improving quality and increasing efficiency through performance-based measures, test collaborative models between physicians and other health care providers, and require public reporting of preventable readmissions and complications.
  • SB 620 by Senator Nelson calls for changes in hospitals’ reporting of health care-associated infection information. The changes would allow the state to participate in the National Healthcare Safety Network supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Senate State Affairs Committee also passed a TMA-supported bill:
  • SB 894 by Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) would allow critical access hospitals, sole community hospitals, and hospitals in counties of 50,000 or fewer to employ physicians. Most of these are hospitals run by local governments. The bill also contains many features that protect the physician’s clinical autonomy against the corporate practice of medicine. The bill:
    • Places the responsibility for all clinical matters — bylaws, credentialing, utilization review, and peer review — under the medical staff;
    • Guarantees physicians’ independent medical judgment;
    • States that all physicians — employed or independent — are subject to the same rights and responsibilities;
    • Allows employed physicians to participate in the selection of their liability insurance and have the right to consent to settle in a liability action; and
    • Requires the medical staff to designate a chief medical officer (CMO) who must be approved by the hospital board. The CMO has the duty to report to the Texas Medical Board (TMB) that the hospital is hiring physicians under this bill and that the CMO is the contact for TMB. The CMO has a duty to report instances of interference to TMB.
BUDGET WATCH
State representatives could have a long weekend in store. Yesterday, lawmakers had pre-filed 371 amendments to HB 1 ― the House version of the state budget.

PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY 
The physician of the day at the capitol is Frederick L. Merian, MD, of Wimberley. Dr. Merian has practiced family medicine for more than 40 years. He graduated from the University of Texas Medical Branch in 1967. Dr. Merian is a member of AMA, TMA and the Hays-Blanco-Caldwell County Medical Society. He is a delegate for the Texas Delegation to AMA.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
It’s not too late. Register today for First Tuesdays at the Capitol on April 5.

Tell us your story. TMA wants to capture your story on video. Tell us why you decided to become a physician. What day did you leave your office or hospital and say to yourself, “Now, that’s why I became a physician”? Tell us what your profession means to you. Check out “physician moments” from some of your colleagues.

WHAT WE'RE READING
Fiscal expert says LBB jobs analysis ‘not a valid comparison’(Austin-American Statesman)
Texas budget crisis threatens anti-smoking program
(Houston Chronicle)
Zerwas: Texas Health Insurance Exchange May Be Dead
(Texas Tribune)

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