May 31, 2011

Health Care Issues Big in Legislature's Special Session

TMA Legislative News Hotline

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Gov. Rick Perry calls Texas Legislature into special session
UNDER THE DOME
The 2011 legislative session roller coaster continues. After 140 days of the regular session, a few pieces critical to the budget puzzle were left unfinished. One is the school finance plan that would change the distribution formulae to the state’s public school districts to account for the $4 billion cut to public education funding. Another is legislation that would enact Medicaid cost savings of about $500 million primarily by expanding managed care statewide to include the Rio Grande Valley and requiring Texans with disabilities to get home health services through Medicaid first.

For this first special session, the “NEW” Senate Bill 7 includes elements of three bills considered during the regular session: SB 7, which related to general Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) efficiencies and would have established a Quality-Based Payment Advisory Committee;  SB 8, which would have established a statewide plan for improving quality and increasing efficiency through performance-based measures, testing collaborative models between physicians and other health care providers (with TMA language to make sure physicians had equal representation in the governance); and SB 23, Medicaid payment reforms that specifically included the managed care expansion.

Sponsors for this bill are Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and, in the House, Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton).

During the regular session, SB 7 died early without being placed on a calendar for floor debate. SB 8 was on the floor Saturday evening when time ran out and was thereby defeated. SB 23 was so low on the House’s final calendar that it never came up on the floor for vote.

The NEW SB 7 will be laid out in the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. It should be in the House early next week for consideration.

Gov. Rick Perry called lawmakers back to the state capitol today to finish their work on those these issues. Once these issues are solved, other measures could be added to the special session.

Parliamentary rules now change. During a special session, the two-thirds rule to pass legislation in the Senate no longer applies, which makes it easier to get bills passed. Stay tuned.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
Remember Eight, at Eight, on the Eighth: Want to learn how the 2011 legislative session affects you and your patients? Then remember these three numbers: 8, 8, and 8. On June 8 at 8 pm, you can learn what actions legislators took on medicine’s top eight issues.

TMA President C. Bruce Malone, MD, will call you at your home telephone number and invite you to stay on the line for TMA’s Tele-2011 Legislative Update. For the next 45 minutes, Dr. Malone and members of TMA’s Council on Legislation and TMA’s lobby team will discuss these eight issues:

1.    2012-13 state budget,
2.    Employment protections,
3.    Texas Medical Board reform,
4.    Scope of practice expansions,
5.    Health system reform,
6.    Workforce,
7.    Public health, and
8.    Health insurance reform.

You may ask questions after each topic and use your phone to participate in a survey. And, the best part: You will earn 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ for your time (providing you stay on the line for the entire program).

If you prefer that we call you on your cell or office telephone, please contact the TMA Knowledge Center by telephone at (800) 880-7955 or by email by Friday, June 3, and let us know. We hope to talk to you on June 8.

WHAT WE'RE READING
Medicare Plan for Payments Irks Hospitals (New York Times)
Texas Senate convenes special session
(Houston Chronicle)
Gov. Perry: Loser Pays Lets Employers Spend Less Time in the Courtroom, More Time Creating Jobs
(Office of the Governor)

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