Jun 21, 2011

Governor Signs TMA-Backed Bills Into Law

TMA Legislative News Hotline

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry signed more than 1,400 bills into law. Around 200 are health-related bills that TMA actively supported. In addition to winning key reforms to the Texas Medical Board (TMB), TMA also won important protections for physicians who seek employment in rural and urban county hospital districts and nonprofit health care 501(a) corporations, new vaccination requirements to protect Texans from meningitis and pertussis, a study by the Higher Education Coordinating Board to assess the number of graduate medical education slots to make sure the state is maximizing its investment in medical education, and much more. Check out the complete list of TMA’s bills the governor signed.

New TMB-Reform Laws: The package of bills to reform TMB include Senate Bill 227 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and Rep. Susan King (R-Abilene), and House Bill 680 by Rep. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), and Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Southside Place). One of the most important things the bills do is prohibit the filing of anonymous complaints. They also:
  • Require the board to notify the physician when insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, or third-party administrators file a complaint;  
  • Increase the time for a physician to respond to a complaint notice from 30 days to 45 days;
  • Allow physicians to tape the proceedings of a TMB informal settlement conference;
  • Allow TMB to require a remedial action plan rather than impose a fine for a minor administrative violation; and
  • Institute a seven-year statute of limitation on bringing a disciplinary action.
The governor only vetoed two key bills TMA supported: A measure by Senator Nelson and Representative King that would bind TMB to the ruling of an administrative law judge in a proceeding supervised by the State Office of Administrative Hearings and another bill that would ban Texans from texting or reading emails while driving.

Yesterday, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved SB 28 by Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), which would ban smoking in some public places. The legislation would save the state more than $30 million in Medicaid costs because fewer people will get sick from smoking or secondhand smoke. The measure could be before the full Senate as early as tomorrow.

The conference committee report for SB 7 by Senator Nelson will be taken up this afternoon in the House. The omnibus health care bill would:
  • Ensure physicians would have an equal say and vote in a collaborative’s governing board, and due process protections and the ability to participate in more than one collaborative arrangement in their community;
  • Establish a statewide plan to improve quality and increase efficiency by forming and regulating health care collaboratives;
  • Create a new Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program Quality-Based Payment Advisory Committee and program that would tie a portion of Medicaid HMO premiums to improved health outcomes and quality, and implement copayments in Medicaid to reduce unnecessary emergency department use;
  • Create more than $460 million for Medicaid by placing a premium tax on Medicaid managed care companies that are expanding to the Rio Grande Valley;
  • Protect patients from vaccine-preventable diseases in health care facilities, such as hospitals, by requiring them to implement vaccination policies to immunize their employees;
  • Establish the Texas Emergency and Trauma Care Education Partnership Program to ensure support of the trauma infrastructure in Texas; and
  • Allow Texas to participate in a multistate compact to help fund and administer Medicaid and Medicare.

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