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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

MEDICINE'S AGENDA HANGS IN THE BALANCE WITH SEVEN DAYS REMAINING IN SESSION

The partisan battle over a bill to require voters to show photo identification brought the Texas House of Representatives to a painfully slow crawl for three days and jeopardized passage of hundreds of other important pieces of legislation. Any bill that hasn’t passed the House by midnight tonight is dead. TMA’s health insurance reform agenda is tied to the must-pass TDI sunset bill as described above. Watch our latest Political Action at Work video. Here is a quick rundown on other pieces of Doctor’s Orders:
  • House-Senate negotiators have just about completed their work on the 2010-11 state budget. Their signatures aren’t on the paper yet, but right now it looks as if we’ve stopped a plan to extend Medicaid HMOs statewide. But there’s no increase in physicians’ Medicaid payments, and we’re still analyzing how graduate medical education funding has fared.
  • With the exception of possible amendments to the TDI sunset bill, we have been successful in killing all attempts to weaken our 2003 liability reforms.
  • Bills that would allow unsafe expansion of nonphysician practitioners’ scope of practice are dead. Our bill to provide flexibility to retail health clinics’ staffing is awaiting Senate approval.
  • Legislation that would allow hospitals all over Texas to hire physicians directly is stuck in the House logjam. We were able to amend the bill to narrow substantially the hospitals to which it applies. We also added language that protects patients and their physicians from outside interference from anyone not directly responsible for the care of the patient.
  • The bill banning smoking in all public places and workplaces statewide is dead.
  • A bill significantly expanding Texas’ physician loan repayment program won Senate Finance Committee approval yesterday. It also picked up a tactical boost as a popular bill reducing small businesses’ franchise tax liability was tied to the fate of the loan repayment measure.

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