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Monday, April 13, 2009

TMA PHYSICIANS TESTIFY FOR PATIENTS AND THE PROFESSION

Led by Dr. Williams, numerous TMA-member physicians stood up for the profession last week by testifying at legislative committee hearings. Dr. Williams testified in support of House Bill 1932 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), the standardized health insurance labeling bill, and for House Bill 1888 by Rep. John Davis (R-Houston), which would set standards for health plans’ physician ratings systems. HB 1988 won House Insurance Committee approval. Also:
  • Jerry Hunsaker, MD, of Corpus Christi, testified in support of House Bill 4385 by Rep. Allen Vaught (D-Dallas), which would criminalize the intentional misuse of databases by health plans to either lower their part of the payment or deny payment for a patient's care.
  • TMA Board of Trustees Chair Lyle Thorstenson, MD, of Nacogdoches testified against six bills that would allow rural hospital districts to directly employ physicians.
  • Jim Merryman, MD, of Austin, testified in support of House Bill 3270 by Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin), which would remove barriers to e-prescribing. Much of this bill came out of TMA’s 2008 E-Prescribing Summit.
  • John Jackson, MD, chair of TMA's Committee on Physician Health and Rehabilitation testified in support of Senate Bill 1331 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville). The bill would create the Texas Physician Health Program to establish a mental health and substance abuse intervention program for physicians. The confidential program is intended to be nondisciplinary and would provide a source of help to doctors who need it.

We have another big week ahead of us at the capitol. The House of Representatives will debate the 2010-11 state budget Friday. Tomorrow, the House Public Health Committee takes up bills for advanced practice nurses to expand their scope of practice in extraordinary ways. We will oppose those and a bill that would undermine TMA's support of a strong and fair Texas Medical Board.

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