Jun 1, 2011

Special Session Gets Off to a Health-Heavy Start

TMA Legislative News Hotline

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Yesterday, House and Senate leaders spent the day getting organized for the special session. In addition to deciding upon what rules they will use in each chamber, they filed bills to take up over the coming days. Lawmakers need to finalize the next two-year budget, which entails coming up with a new school finance plan and nontax revenue to cover spending.

The Senate Finance Committee will start tackling the critical budget pieces tomorrow. Here are the four bills they will take up:

Senate Bill 1
by Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock). SB 1 basically is SB 1811 — the nontax revenue measure containing hybrid school finance allocation methods that was filibustered during the end of regular session. It is essential to pass some version of SB 1 to balance the state budget.

SB 2
by Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan). It amends current law relating to appropriating money for the support of state government for the 2012-13 budget. Money cannot be allocated to certain parts of government without the passage of SB 1.

SB 5
by Sens. Joan Huffman (R-Southside Place) and Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound). It would establish the Interstate Health Care Compact to petition the federal government to block-grant all federal funding to the states for health care services. TMA is concerned about Texas getting its fair share of the funding and wants to ensure that both population growth and demographic changes are accounted for in any proposal. During the regular session, this measure was House Bill 5 by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham).

SB 7
by Senator Nelson, the health and human services efficiencies bill aimed at creating new health care collaboratives in the health care system and achieving cost savings in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This omnibus health care bill contains elements from the following five bills considered during the regular session:
  • SB 7 that would establish a new Medicaid and CHIP Quality-Based Payment Advisory Committee and program;
  • SB 8 that would establish a statewide plan for improving quality and increasing efficiency through formation and regulation of health care collaboratives;
  • SB 23 that would create Medicaid-cost savings; it includes the managed care expansion in the Rio Grande Valley;
  • Rep. Brandon Creighton’s (R-Conroe) language that prohibits mandating a person to purchase health care insurance through an insurance collaborative;
  • SB 1177 that would require health care facilities such as hospitals to develop and implement vaccination policies for health care workers to protect patients from vaccine-preventable diseases; and
  • HB 2546 that would establish the Texas Emergency and Trauma Care Education Partnership Program to ensure support of the trauma infrastructure in Texas.
Asa Lockhart, MD, chair of TMA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Accountable Care Organizations, will take the witness stand tomorrow to testify on SBs 5 and 7 on behalf of medicine.
The Senate Education Committee will take up these two bills tomorrow as well:
  • SB 6 by Sen. Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) on curriculum, the instructional materials allotment, and textbooks, much of which was included in HB 6 from the regular session; and
  • SB 8 by Senator Shapiro that would give school districts more management flexibility to save money. It was known as the SB 12 in the regular session.
Other Items Added to the Call by the Governor
Gov. Rick Perry added SB 4 by Sen. Kel Selinger (R-Amarillo) — the congressional redistricting measure — to the special session schedule yesterday. It is anticipated that more issues will be added for consideration during the special session.

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 Monday, June 5, and let us know. We hope to talk to you on June 8.

A Third of Special Session Bills Relate to Health Care (Texas Tribune)
New health coverage takes effect in July
(San Antonio Express-News)
Managed care explained: Why a Medicaid innovation is spreading
Is someone snooping your health records? New rule will tell you who
(MSNBC News)

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