May 16, 2011

State Budget Hitting Session Time Crunch

TMA Legislative News Hotline

Monday, May 16, 2011

With only two weeks left in the 2011 legislative session, lawmakers still have a lot of work to accomplish if they plan to pass a state budget by Memorial Day. Legislators are under pressure from outside groups to approve a budget that dramatically cuts state spending. A robo-call went out last week asking lawmakers to keep the state living within its means by cutting spending, protecting the Rainy Day Fund, and saying “no” to any new taxes or revenue schemes.

What’s in the works this week: The budget negotiators spent last week ironing out House and Senate differences in the 2012-13 budget. We should see their final product early this week. Meanwhile, Senate Bill 1811 by Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) that would help cover some of the spending in the budget will be taken up by the Texas House. The legislation, known as the “fiscal matter” bill, would generate nontax revenue money. The House likely will substitute SB 1811 with its language. The bill then goes to conference committee, where House and Senate differences are resolved. The big sticking point stalling the budget process is how to pay for public schools. This issue is before the full Senate. Either or both of these issues could hang up the budget.

Here a few more bills that received Senate approval last week:
  • House Bill 1380 by Rep. Vicki Truitt (R-Keller) and SB 1022 by Sen. José Rodríquez (D-El Paso). It would allow international medical graduates to apply for licensure in Texas after two (rather than three) years of graduate medical education.
  • SB 270 by Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio). It helps ensure more newborns receive hearing screenings. It also adds follow-up care for newborns with abnormal hearing screening results.
  • SB 1360 by Sen. Chris Harris (R-Arlington) and HB 2975 by Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi). The legislation establishes a process of accredited continuing medical education (CME) programs for physicians by the Texas Medical Board (TMB). A TMB stakeholders group would develop accredited CME offerings regarding Lyme disease diagnosis, care, and treatment.

The Texas House passed HB 677 by Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville) last week. It would require a neurocognitive or cognitive-linguistic assessment of young athletes before they could participate in athletic events after sustaining a concussion.

Good news: HB 438 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) and Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas) is headed to the governor’s desk for his signature. The legislation would require health plans to cover orally administered anticancer medications at the same level as they provide coverage for other medical or surgical expenses. TMA strongly supported this legislation.

Thomas Shima, DO
The physician of the day at the capitol is Thomas Shima, DO, of Dallas. Dr. Shima has practiced family medicine for 10 years. He graduated from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in 1998. Dr. Shima is a member of the Dallas County Medical Society.

Perry signs physicians' bill into law (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
Trauma center chiefs beg for usual funding
(Houston Chronicle)
Medicare to Run Dry in 2024
(MedPage Today)
AMA unveils SGR replacement plans
(American Medical News)
House approves concussion bill for school sports (Houston Chronicle)

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