TMA Legislative News Hotline
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Senate leaders failed to get the votes needed to bring up their state budget plan for 2012-13 Tuesday. In order to bring up the proposal, they need two-thirds of the Senate voting for the bill. To help get the votes, Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) took out a controversial provision that would tap the Rainy Day Fund for another $3 billion. To replace this money, Senator Ogden proposed making up the difference by bumping a $1.25 billion Medicaid payment into 2013 and enacting a 1.2 percent across-the-board cut for everything except schools and debt service. Senate leaders said they would add the money back into Medicaid if the state produces more revenue next year. This move still didn’t help muster the votes needed. However, the Senate plans to revise its rules today requiring only a simple majority to hear the bill. The budget bill then can be debated with only 16 senators voting in favor. The Senate spending plan is about $12 billion higher in state and federal funds than a bare-bones House budget plan. It cuts current spending by $11 billion, or 5.9 percent. Stay tuned.
- Senate Bill 894 by Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) and Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) was tentatively approved. The bill now moves to final approval. This is TMA’s physician employment protection bill. SB 894 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.
- House Bill 300 by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) was tentatively passed by the House. 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 1720 by Rep. John Davis (R-Houston) received tentative approve by the House. It would improve accountability in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
- HB 2599 by Rep. Allan Ritter (R-Nederland) also received tentative approval. It would place a tax on chewing tobacco and require better reporting of tobacco taxes.