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Monday, March 30, 2009

BILL WEAKENING LIABILITY REFORM GOES NOWHERE YET; TMA BILL PASSES TEXAS SENATE

An outpouring of opposition from TMA members, and strong testimony from Bill Peper, MD, chair of TMA’s Committee on Professional Liability, helped to keep a dangerous bill bottled up in a State Senate committee. Senate Bill 152 by Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) would weaken liability protections for physicians who see patients in emergency situations. Also in a busy week in Austin:

  • The Senate unanimously passed SB 532 by Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston). This is TMA's bill on supervision of physician assistants and advanced practice nurses at retail health clinics.
  • TMA witnesses stood strong under withering questioning at the House Insurance Committee. TMA Immediate Past President Bill Hinchey, MD; TEXPAC Chair Susan Strate, MD; and Greg Bernica, executive director of the Harris County Medical Society, testified on behalf of TMA for some good insurance reform bills and against various pieces of health-plan-backed legislation.
  • Many other TMA member physicians stepped up to the plate on your behalf. Thanks to these physicians for testifying before committees at the legislature: Dawn Buckingham, MD, and Kim Edwards, MD, of Austin; and Janet Realini, MD, MPH, and Charles Leach, MD, of San Antonio.
We expect another hectic week at the capitol, with hearings on several of our health insurance reform bills, our proposal to counter the growing demands for hospitals to employ physicians directly, bills to expand the physician loan repayment program, the Sunset bill to continue and improve the Texas Department of Insurance, and ongoing debate on the state budget.

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