Nov 14, 2016

Texas Doctors See Post-Election Opportunity to Reshape Health Care

(ORLANDO) -- The 2016 elections brought physicians an excellent opportunity to rebuild America’s health care systems, Texas Medical Association officials say.

“Everything is on the table — the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicare, and Medicaid,” said David Henkes, MD, chair of the Texas Delegation to the American Medical Association. “Today, we are crafting plans to remake the system so it truly serves our physician members and our patients.”

Drs. Kridel (l) and Henkes prepare to lead discussion on health care reform
at meeting of Texas Delegation to the AMA.
Fortuitously, the interim meeting of the AMA House of Delegates brought dozens of TMA leaders together just four days after the Nov. 8 elections. They laid out key strategic directions that TMA staff will use to devise a detailed plan.

“We need one document for all physicians, all specialties, to take to Congress and the administration and say, ‘This is what medicine believes in,’ ” Houston facial plastic surgeon Russ Kridel, MD, a member of the AMA Board of Trustees, said at an hour-long health care reform conversation among members of the Texas Delegation to the AMA, who are in Orlando, Fla., for the interim meeting of the AMA House of Delegates. “We need to act now, and we need to do those things that will put us at the table.”

“The ACA was a first step, now we need to take another step,” said former AMA and TMA President Jim Rohack, MD.

The Texas physicians said they are looking for an approach that simplifies the health care system for physicians and patients, reduces the huge regulatory burden on physicians, and reduces the cost of U.S. health care.

“This whole system is just too complicated for most people to handle,” said Dallas psychiatrist Clifford Moy, MD.

Many of the ideas in President-Elect Donald Trump’s “Great Again” health care platform and the health care agenda in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” plan are consistent with TMA policy.

TMA actively opposed passage of the ACA in 2010 but has since adopted an approach to “Keep what’s good, fix what’s broken, and find what’s missing.” Speaker Ryan echoed that approach during a Nov. 13 television interview, when he said, “We can fix what is broken in health care without breaking what is working in health care."

Six years of near absolute gridlock in Washington, DC, prevented even the tiniest ACA reforms from passing. One very significant achievement – from TMA’s “Find what’s missing” category – was the repeal of Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula via the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).

“Texas Solution” Gets New Life

It’s important to remember that what happens in Washington not only affects Medicare, commercial health insurance, and coverage for uninsured patients, but also plays a big role in how states implement the Medicaid program.

“We are entering into a new time,” U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville), said at a fundraising reception TMA hosted for him in Orlando. “I would love it if the governors came to Washington and said, ‘OK, guys, you deliver the mail and secure the border, we’ll take care of our sick folks.’ That would be a far, far more reasonable way to approach it.”

Representative Burgess (l) discusses opportunities for major health system
changes with Drs. Robert Gunby (c) and John Carlo (r) of Dallas.
Dr. Burgess likely will be a key player in the health care debate in the next Congress.

Both the Trump and Ryan plans call for Medicaid changes that mirror the “Texas Solution” for expanded coverage that TMA has promoted since 2013. The Texas Solution calls for a comprehensive plan that:
  • Improves patient care;
  • Draws down all available federal dollars to expand access to health care for poor Texans;
  • Gives Texas the flexibility to change the plan as our needs and circumstances change;
  • Clears away Medicaid’s financial, administrative, and regulatory hurdles that are driving up costs and driving Texas physicians away from the program;
  • Relieves local Texas taxpayers and Texans with insurance from the unfair and unnecessary burden of paying the entire cost of caring for their uninsured neighbors; and
  • Pays physicians for Medicaid services at a rate at least equal to Medicare payments.

TMA staff are preparing a white paper on “Post-Election Strategies for Health System Reform” for discussion at the TMA Advocacy Retreat, Dec. 2-3 in Austin.

Nov 9, 2016

TEXPAC and Texas Physicians Enjoy Strong Election Results

This unique presidential election brought on many predictions and projections for who would win, but even as the polls closed last night, most voters were unsure of the likely outcome and how it would affect the races across the state.

As expected, voters flocked to the polls to vote for the next president. But while Texas set a record for early voter turnout, our Election Day turnout struggled — most Texans had cast their ballot early. TEXPAC’s concern was that the high volume of voters overall would affect our friends running for reelection in swing districts in counties such as Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis. However, hard work and Donald Trump’s 54-percent win in Texas helped most of our friends claim victory last night.

Wins for Medicine

The election resulted in two HUGE wins for medicine. We have two new TMA/TEXPAC physicians elected to the Texas Legislature! Sen.-Elect Dawn Buckingham, MD, won Senate District 24 with 72.4 percent of the vote, and Rep.-Elect Tom Oliverson, MD, is the newest physician in the Texas House. He won House District 130 in the primary election last March and ran unopposed in the general election. TEXPAC endorsed both candidates in the primary and general elections, and we are thrilled to work with them in the upcoming legislative session.

TEXPAC had an extremely successful night. In total, 119 endorsed candidates for the Texas House, 16 for the Texas Senate, and four endorsed judicial candidates were victorious. Despite these successes, we did lose three friendly incumbents to their challengers:
  • In House District 117, Rick Galindo (R) was defeated by former State Rep. Philip Cortez (D). A Democrat usually holds the seat, and we expected this outcome, but we are sad to lose Rick Galindo. Fortunately, Philip Cortez is also a friend of medicine. He was a champion of our issues during the 83rd legislative session, and we are excited to work with him again.
  • In Harris County, we saw a similar scenario. In House District 144, another swing district, former State Rep. Mary Ann Perez reclaimed her seat from TEXPAC-endorsed Gilbert Pena (R).
  • The most disappointing loss for medicine last night, however, was in House District 107. Our good friend Kenneth Sheets (R) was defeated by his opponent Victoria Neave (D). This is a big loss for TEXPAC; Kenneth Sheets was a wonderful state representative, as well as a champion for medicine. He had a great relationship with the TMA Advocacy team and even better relations with his local physicians. He played a big role on the House Insurance Committee, and we are sad to lose him. His race was considered to be one of the toughest this cycle, and we worked hard to help him get reelected. I know he is grateful for the support we provided him as an organization.
Fortunately, most of our friends will be back to represent medicine in the 85th legislative session. We are extremely excited for our friendly incumbents to return, and we also are looking forward to working with the new members we supported. Below are the results for our priority races.


State Senate
SD 19 
Carlos Uresti (D) 
SD 20
Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D)
SD 24
Dawn Buckingham, MD (R)
72.4% (new member)

State House
HD 23 
Wayne Faircloth (R)
HD 33
Justin Holland (R)
67.8% (new member)
HD 41
Bobby Guerra (D)
HD 43
J.M. Lozano (R)
HD 47
Paul Workman (R)
HD 54
Scott Cosper (R)
54.8% (new member)
HD 64
Lynn Stucky (R)
61.6% (new member)
HD 65
Ron Simmons (R)
HD 102
Linda Koop (R)
HD 105
Rodney Anderson (R)
HD 107
Victoria Neave (D)
50.8% (new member)
HD 112
Angie Chen Button (R)
HD 113
Cindy Burkett (R)
HD 114
Jason Villalba (R)
HD 117
Philip Cortez (D)
51.4% (new member)
HD 118
Tomas Uresti (D)
55.2% (new member)
HD 134
Sarah Davis (R)
HD 136
Tony Dale (R)
HD 144
Mary Ann Perez (D)
60.2% (new member)
HD 149
Hubert Vo (D)

Texas Supreme Court 
Place 5
Paul Green (R)
Place 9
Eva Guzman (R)

Texas Medical Association Political Action Committee (TEXPAC) is a bi-partisan political action committee of TMA and affiliated with the American Medical Association Political Action Committee (AMPAC) for congressional contribution purposes only. Its goal is to support and elect pro-medicine candidates on both the federal and state level. Voluntary contributions by individuals to TEXPAC should be written on personal checks. Funds attributed to individuals or professional association (PAs) that would exceed federal contribution limits will be placed in the TEXPAC statewide account to support non-federal political candidates. Contributions are not limited to the suggested amounts. TEXPAC will not favor or disadvantage anyone based on the amounts or failure to make contributions. Contributions used for federal purposes are subject to the prohibitions and limitations of the Federal Election Campaign Act.
Contributions or gifts to TEXPAC or any CMS PAC are not deductible as charitable contributions or business expenses for Federal income tax purposes.
Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation, and name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year. To satisfy this regulation, please include your occupation and employer information in the space provided. Contributions from a practice business account must disclose the name of the practice and the allocation of contributions for each contributing owner. Should you have any questions, please call TEXPAC at (512) 370-1361.
Paid for by the Texas Medical Association Political Action Committee
401 W. 15th St. Austin, TX 78701