TMA Legislative News Hotline
Thursday, April 7, 2011
|Sen. Jane Nelson|
Good news. TMA’s bills to reform the Texas Medical Board (TMB) are moving. The Senate has passed Senate Bills 190 and 191 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound). SB 190 would amend Texas’ Medical Practice Act to prohibit the granting of a license to an applicant who has had a medical license suspended or revoked by another state or country (previously, only country was Canada). It also allows physicians to tape the proceedings of an informal settlement conference, which eliminates the truly anonymous complaints, and provides a physician with a notice if an insurance company files a complaint. SB 191 binds TMB to the ruling of an administrative law judge in a proceeding supervised by the State Office of Administrative Hearings. And unlike any other licensing board, the board supports this fairness provision. Two other bills making their way through the Senate chamber are:
- SB 177 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) is waiting to be voted out of Senate Health and Human Services Committee. It requires the board to do all of the above.
- SB 227 by Senator Nelson was passed by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and is now waiting for a hearing in the Senate. SB 277 would provide some discretion by TMB to waive a fine in lieu of a remedial action plan for minor administrative violation.
Medicaid-Cost Savings: The House Public Health Committee took up more than a dozen bills aimed at cutting costs of Medicaid services yesterday. The committee heard bills that ranged from charging Medicaid patients a copay and making Medicaid the payer of last resort to forcing Federal Qualified Health Care clinics and other community clinics to treat patients until 10 pm. John Holcomb, MD, a San Antonio pulmonologist and member of TMA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Medicaid and the Uninsured, was on hand to testify on behalf of TMA.
Two bills that TMA supported in the hearing would extend the Women’s Health Program. 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 strong support of HB 1478 by Rep. Beverly Woolley (R-Houston) and HB 1138 by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin).
A big shout out goes to Drs. Realini and Holcomb, who continually take the witness stand on behalf of TMA and Medicaid patients.
Physician Employment: The Senate Business and Commerce Committee yesterday passed SB 860 by Sen. José Rodriquez (D-El Paso). The measure would allow the El Paso County Hospital District to employ physicians and other health care professionals. Under this measure, the supervision of all matters related to the practice of medicine — by all physicians, employed or not — is the responsibility of the district’s medical executive board. The board would be made up of physicians and would establish the rules related to credentialing of physicians, peer review process, quality assurance programs, and any other function related to the clinical responsibilities of physicians practicing in district facilities. Most important, the bill results from a consensus achieved locally by the El Paso County Medical Society, the hospital district, and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine. And, it helps fulfill the statutory mission of the district to provide indigent care.
Texas Medical Board: The House Public Health Committee also passed a Committee Substitute for HB 1013 by Rep. Fred Brown (R-College Station) that would weaken the board yesterday. Despite its portrayal as a “kinder, gentler version” of the original, CSHB 1013 still contains a number of objectionable provisions with unknown but significant costs, largely to be assessed to each licensed physician by an increase in their biennial license fee. TMA continues to oppose this bill. TMA believes that weakening the Texas Medical Board will drive complaints back to civil district courts, will place the liability reforms of 2003 at risk, and would create a new round of access-to-care problems for Texas patients. As stated above, TMA has four other bills in play that provide for real and fair reforms.
Brain Injury Prevention: The House passed HB 675 by Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville) yesterday. HB 675 would ensure that public schools track the number of years a football helmet is used and its condition. After 16 years, the helmet cannot be used any longer by student athletes.
The Senate Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Matters is meeting today to discuss ways the Senate can find more money for its budget through nontax revenue. Today is the committees’ first official meeting. Two weeks ago, each member of the group received a specific assignment to start looking for additional money.
The House Appropriations Committee also is taking a series of bills that could bring more money into the state, such as:
- HB 1645 by Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond), which looks at efficiencies and cost-savings in the health and human services agencies, including the state medical assistance and child health plan programs.
|Rick D. Edwards, MD|
Duncan, Houston legislator clear hurdle to bill on hirings by rural hospitals (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
Could the federal health law survive without the individual mandate? (Stateline)
Health care reform can't work without more doctors (CNN)
Will Hospitals Be Taxed to Prop Up Medicaid? (Texas Tribune)