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Monday, May 18, 2009

MEDICINE'S BILLS STILL MOVING AS LEGISLATIVE SESSION BEGINS LAST TWO WEEKS

Deadlines and the constantly ticking clock are killing off thousands of bills as the 2009 Texas Legislature moves into its nerve-wracking, final two weeks. All eyes are watching House-Senate negotiations over the 2010-11 state budget bill. Our big concerns there include Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) payments for physicians and funding for graduate medical education. Other pieces of our legislative agenda continue to move forward:
  • On the health insurance reform front, HB 1342 by Rep. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) and Sen. Chris Harris (R-Arlington) won Senate approval. The bill, which requires health plans to provide pertinent patient coverage information at the time of service, goes back to the House. A Senate committee passed HB 1888 by Rep. John Davis (R-Houston) and Sen. Robert Duncan (D-Lubbock), which gives physicians important protections in health plan ranking schemes.
  • The House passed HB 2962 by Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), which would expand eligibility for CHIP coverage and provide a continuous 12 months' eligibility for Medicaid.
  • A bill to enhance Texas' physician loan repayment program, HB 2154 by Rep. Al Edwards (D-Houston), also passed in the House.
  • The House approved SB 61 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) and Rep. Allen Vaught (D-Dallas), which adopts American Academy of Pediatrics standards for booster seats for children.

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