Apr 13, 2011

TMA Pushes Opt-Out Immunization Registry Bill

TMA Legislative News Hotline

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rep. Donna Howard
Immunizations: Jason Terk, MD, senior consultant pediatrician with Cook Children’s Health Care System from Keller, will testify in support of House Bill 574 by Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin). Dr. Terk will testify before the House Public Health Committee today on behalf of TMA, The Immunization Partnership, Texas Pediatric Society, and Texas Academy of Family Physicians. The bill would make the state’s immunization registry — ImmTrac ― an “opt-out” registry versus an “opt-in” one. Dr. Terk will tell committee members that moving to an opt-out system would help physicians serve their patients in a more effective manner and ensure more children get needed and timely vaccinations.

SB 1107 by Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) still awaits action by the Senate Higher Education Committee. The measure, which TMA supports, would require first-time or transfer students at a public or private college to be vaccinated for bacterial meningitis, regardless of where they live. Senator Davis sponsored legislation in 2009 that made Texas the first state to make this vaccination a requirement for all first-time college students that live on campus.

Medicaid Cost Savings: TMA submitted comments to the House Public Health Committee today on HB 13 by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham). The bill calls for the development of a Section 1115 federal waiver (block grant) to give Texas greater flexibility in the design and operation of the Medicaid program. TMA raised several concerns about the bill, specifically whether Texas could secure enough funding to cover not only annual medical inflation but also caseload growth.

Dr. Malone
Physician Employment: Bruce Malone, MD, TMA president-elect and Austin orthopedic surgeon, will testify today against HB 3753 by Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) before the House Urban Affairs Committee. This is companion legislation to SB 1255 by Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls), which the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee approved on Monday. The measure would allow one hospital in Decatur, Texas, to employ physicians. TMA testified against the bill in March and still opposes it. The hospital falls outside the parameters of TMA’s and Sen. Robert Duncan’s (R-Lubbock) agreed-upon physician employment bill, SB 894, for rural counties. SB 894 has significant provisions to protect physicians’ independent medical judgment. The hospital, in Wise County, is a robust facility in a fast-growing area with a 501(a) that already employs six physicians. TMA believes the bill will dilute the intended effects of SB 894 for rural communities.

Stem Cell Research: Susan N. Rossmann, MD, PhD, a Houston pathologist and chief medical officer for the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, will take the witness stand today before the House State Affairs Committee. Dr. Rossmann will testify in support of HB 2063 by Rep. Hubert Vo (D-Houston). This bill would allow state employees to have up to five days of leave without a salary reduction to donate adult stem cells. Employees currently are allowed to have leave for donating bone marrow or to be an organ donor.

Unbalanced: Slashing the county's Medicaid funds will exacerbate, not alleviate, budget woes (Houston Chronicle)
From Texas to D.C., Medicaid Funding Debate Rages
(Texas Tribune)

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