Apr 6, 2011

Bad, BAD Scope Bill Up in Committee Today

TMA Legislative News Hotline

Wednesday, April 6, 2011



Sen. Robert Duncan
R-Lubbock
BUDGET WATCH
A common phrase at the capitol these days is, “Where’s the money?” House leaders already are talking about the need to find more money to pay for their newly passed budget. On Sunday, the Texas House passed a bare-bones budget that spends $164.5 billion in the 2012-13 budget cycle. It calls for deep cuts to health and human services. The budget is far short of what it would take to maintain current health services, especially given population growth and inflation.

For the past two weeks, the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Matters has been looking for additional money. Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock), chair of the subcommittee, was tasked with finding $5 billion in additional nontax revenue. Right now, the Senate budget plan is more generous in funding for health and human services.

Now there is talk among Senate leaders for the need to revisit the state’s margins tax or perhaps return to the franchise tax. You can count on this being a hot topic during the interim — or sooner. Stay tuned.

BILL UPDATE
Chiropractor scope bill: Today the Senate Business and Commerce Committee could take up Senate Bill 1001 by Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas). TMA opposes this bill and here’s why. The Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners would have carte blanche authority to do whatever it wants — by rulemaking — without legislation. No other health licensure state agency could sue to stop the board — even when it is clearly operating outside its legislative authority. This puts Texas patients in harm’s way. The chiropractic board also has a long track record of using rulemaking to push the scope of practice of chiropractors beyond legislative boundaries. The board’s aggressive actions have been stopped in the past only through lawsuits.

Health care worker vaccinations: The Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed SB 1177 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound). The measure would require health care workers to be vaccinated against communicable diseases. Charles J. Lerner, MD, FSHEA, chair of TMA’s Committee on Infectious Diseases and the medical director of hospital epidemiology and employee health for the Methodist Health Care system in San Antonio, testified in support of the bill yesterday.

Cancer prevention and research: The Senate passed SB 73 by Senator Nelson. The measure would allow the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to issue funds when they are needed for cancer research, prevention, and commercialization grants. Since its creation, CPRIT has created 11,000 jobs with a more than $850 million impact on Texas businesses.


Dr. Janet Realini
Women’s health: Yesterday, Senator Nelson named a special subcommittee to work on women’s health bills. Members of the panel are Sen. Bob Deuell, MD (R-Greenville), chair, and Sens. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and José Rodríguez (D-El Paso). Their goal is ensure state funds are not used to promote abortion but provide Texas women access to cancer screening and family planning services. The three bills referred to the subcommittee are SB 575 by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), SB 585 by Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin), and SB 1854 by Senator Deuell. The bills would renew state support for the Texas Women’s Health Program, which is set to expire this year. The program provides gynecological exams and birth control to low-income women. Janet Realini, MD, MPH, a San Antonio family physician and a volunteer for the Healthy Futures Alliance (HFA), a community coalition dedicated to reducing teen and unplanned pregnancy, testified in support of SBs 575 and 585 yesterday in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.


Dr. Mark Chassay
 PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY 
The physician of the day at the capitol is C. Mark Chassay, MD, of Austin. Dr. Chassay has practiced sports and family medicine for 15 years. He graduated from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in 1992. Dr. Chassay is a member of the American Medical Association, TMA, and the Travis County Medical Society.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
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.

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