May 6, 2011

TMA's Employment Protection, TMB Reform Bills Move Forward

TMA Legislative News Hotline

Friday, May 6, 2011

Good news. With only three weeks left of the session, it’s vital that bills make it through both the House and the Senate. Several bills key to TMA’s legislative agenda were approved yesterday.

Sen. Robert Duncan
Physician employment protections:Thousands of Texas physicians currently employed in a 501(a) corporation may soon have employment protections. The House Public Health Committee passed Senate Bill 1661 by Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) yesterday. The bill would establish protections for physicians’ clinical autonomy and gives to the physician board of directors of nonprofit health care corporations (501[a]s) the responsibility for all policies related to clinical care. It also strengthens the role of TMB in supervising the activities of nonprofit health care corporations. The bill now goes to the full House for final approval.
Want to learn more about the physician employment bills moving through the legislative process? TMA has a description of each bill and how it protects a physicians’ clinical autonomy on our website.

TMB reform bills move: The House Public Health Committee also passed three bills yesterday that are critical to TMA’s legislative agenda to reform the Texas Medical Board (TMB). The bills, SBs 190, 191, and 237 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), would improve how TMB handles complaints against physicians. These bills now go to the full House for final approval.

Health insurance reform: House Bill 1253 by Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo) was passed by the House and assigned to Senate State Affairs Committee Thursday. It requires a health plan to notify the enrollees of any modification to the drug formulary no later than 60 days before the date the modification is effective. Currently health plans notify employers and the Texas Department of Insurance commissioner of modifications.

Immunizations: SB 1107 by Sen. Wendy Davis (R-Fort Worth) was passed by the House yesterday and is now headed to the governor’s desk for signature. It would require all first-time students at public and private or independent colleges to receive a bacterial meningitis vaccination.

Medicaid cost-containment: HBs 1983 and 2636 by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) were passed by the House Thursday. They both now go to a Senate committee for consideration. HB 1983 would direct the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to implement tested, evidence-based quality and cost-savings measures aimed at reducing the incidence of elective inductions or C-sections prior to the 39th week of gestation. It also directs HHSC to study the impact on infant health, the frequency of infant admissions to neonatal intensive care units, and readmission rates. HB 2636 directs HHSC to establish a commission to study neonatal intensive care units.

Obesity prevention: SB 1533 by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) was passed by Senate Thursday. It now goes to the House. The bill would restrict the availability of foods served in Texas public schools with industrially produced trans fats. Its companion legislation is HB 3467 by Rep. Diane Patrick (R-Arlington).

Student athlete safety: HB 2038 by Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo) was passed by the House Thursday and now goes to a Senate committee for consideration.The legislation requires public schools to follow a protocol to deal with students who get concussions during school-sponsored athletic or other events. Students who are diagnosed with a concussion or who are suspected to have sustained one would be removed from play immediately. They wouldn’t be allowed back on the field until a doctor signs a release. The bill also would require that coaches be trained about concussions and that schools create concussion oversight teams. Sen. Robert Deuell, MD (R-Greenville), is carrying the bill’s companion legislation, SB 835.

Read Action: Every two weeks, TMA publishes a web edition of Action. Action presents important and timely information about legal, economic, regulatory, and legislative affairs that Texas physicians need to know. Here is the May 2 edition.

Medical Societies Weigh in on Permanent Fix to Medicare Reimbursement (Wall Street Journal)
An Important Step Toward Medicare Reform
Backers of health care compacts praise local control as Texas measure moves through Senate
(Texas Watchdog)
G.O.P. Rethinking Bid to Overhaul Medicare Rules
(The New York Times)
GOP senators use rare procedure to pass Texas budget
(Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
House Gives Early OK to Rural Hospitals Hiring Docs
(Texas Tribune)

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