Apr 29, 2011

Texas Budget Still Stalled in the Senate

TMA Legislative News Hotline

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sen. Steve Ogden
In spite of lots of controversy, the chief budget writer for the Senate is trying to keep the budget process moving in the upper chamber. Yesterday, Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) offered up several ideas to help cover the cost of the Senate’s spending plan. One that was approved by the full Senate would generate $184 million in additional revenue. It involves passing a temporary constitutional amendment that would increase the market value of the Permanent School Fund.

Senator Ogden also is going to take up the supplemental appropriations bill — House Bill 4 — in the Finance Committee. HB 4 authorizes additional spending to make up shortfalls in the current (2010-11) state budget. The measure passed in the House earlier this month.

Bills continue to move through the House and Senate chambers. Yesterday, the Senate passed these two bills:
  • Senate Bill 23 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound). It creates about $500 million in cost savings, primarily in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance program. The measure expands Medicaid managed care into South Texas for a savings of $290 million over the biennium. It requires most Medicaid patients to use medicines on a state formulary. And it ensures people with disabilities receiving home health care use a Medicaid contractor. Its companion is HB 1645 by Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton).
  • SB 1580 by Senator Ogden would require the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to study the cost-effectiveness of telemonitoring for diabetic Medicaid patients. SB 1580 also directs HHSC to study physician incentives to reduce Medicaid patients’ nonemergent use of emergency departments. Its companion legislation is HB 3666 by Representative Zerwas.

Rep. Garnet Coleman
 Today, several bills that TMA support are on the General House Calendar:
  • The committee substitute for HB 1700 by Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston). This is TMA’s physician employment protection bill. HB 1700 would allow critical access hospitals, sole community hospitals, and hospitals in counties of 50,000 or fewer to employ physicians. Most of these hospitals are run by local governments. The bill contains many features that protect the physician’s clinical autonomy against the corporate practice of medicine. It:
    • 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.
  • CSHB 300 by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham). This is an attempt to strengthen state privacy law on top of the federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The legislation would expand the entities and individuals who must comply with state privacy measures and also increases penalties for those who illegally disclose or sell data.
  • HB 1816 by Rep. Charlie Howard (R-Sugarland). It would require all first-time students at public and private or independent colleges to receive a bacterial meningitis vaccination. Its companion legislation is CSSB 1107 by Sen. Wendy Davis (R-Fort Worth). It’s on the Senate Local and Consent Calendar today.
Senate Approves Medicaid Savings Bill (Texas Tribune)
Two Lyme disease bills target gap in treatment in Texas
(Austin American

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