Last session, lawmakers increased the agency’s appropriation by $3.4 million — to $18.4 million for the biennium — to better manage the backlog of license applications. The board was directed to cut the average processing time for a new license to 51 days. TMB met this goal and initiated an online application process to further speed up licensure.
TMA continues to advocate for a strong board with fair processes and actions to enforce Senate Bill 104, which was passed along with liability reforms in 2003. That law strengthened the board’s enforcement capabilities and added a surcharge to physicians’ licenses to pay for more staff and equipment. It also directed TMB to focus on quality of care and impairment issues.
Medicine’s 2009 Agenda
- Support a new program to address the needs of illness-impaired physicians and other licensed providers TMB oversees.
- The Texas Physician Health Program would be modeled on the longstanding, successful program for impaired attorneys sponsored by the State Bar of Texas.
- Support legislation to require TMB and other licensing boards to abide by the decisions of the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) in disciplinary matters.
- Support involvement of TMB and other licensing agencies in cooperation with law enforcement to address illegal drug use and illegal use of prescriptions for controlled substances.
- Oppose efforts to require licensure of pain clinics; this would be inappropriate and ineffective.
- All Texans must be confident that they are receiving the highest quality of care and that their physicians are qualified, competent, and adhere to highest ethical and professional standards.
- TMB should focus on the SB 104 charges and work to improve its administrative and disciplinary processes so they are fair and understandable for all.
- Impairment is an important issue for all, not just physicians. The Texas Physician Health Program would not replace the board’s jurisdiction but allow for confidential reporting and encourage earlier intervention, where recovery rates are higher.
- Fairness in disciplinary hearings and processes support a requirement that TMB and others be bound by SOAH rulings. Either party could still appeal SOAH findings in court.