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Monday, May 23, 2011

A GREAT WEEK FOR TMA'S LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

Just seven days remain in the 2011 Texas Legislature’s regular session (holding our breaths on whether we’ll need a special session), and we can put a slew of checkmarks on TMA’s advocacy agenda for you and your patients. Several bills critical to our legislative program are nearly through the legislative process and close to the governor’s desk for signature. They provide physicians important employment protections and reform the Texas Medical Board (TMB). These bills complement the rural employment protection bill Governor Perry already signed. Last week:


  • The House passed Senate Bill 1661 by Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) and Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), which would provide whistle-blower protection and ensure clinical autonomy for thousands of physicians employed in 501(a) corporations.
  • The Senate passed House Bill 2351 by Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon (D-San Antonio) and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), which would allow the Bexar County Hospital District to employ physicians with protections to meet its statutory mission of providing indigent care.
  • The Senate approved HB 1380 by Rep. Vicki Truitt (R-Keller) and Sen. José Rodríquez (D-El Paso), which would allow international medical graduates to apply for Texas licenses after two years of residency training.
  • The House passed SB 191 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and Rep. Susan King (R-Abilene), which would bind TMB to the ruling of an administrative law judge.
  • The House passed SB 227 by Senator Nelson and Representative King, which would allow TMB to waive a fine in lieu of a remedial action plan for a minor administrative violation.
  • One critical bill — SB 190 by Senator Nelson and Representative King — was knocked off the fast track for House approval by special interests opposed to TMA. It now will be reassigned to the General House Calendar. SB 190 has many TMB reforms that we have worked to win over the past two sessions. We have other legislative strategies in play as a backup to this bill.
  • TMA witnesses at House and Senate committee hearings were Erica Swegler, MD, a Keller family medicine physician and chair of TMA’s Committee on Infectious Diseases; Alice Gong, MD, a San Antonio neonatal-perinatal specialist and a member of TMA’s Committee on Maternal and Perinatal Health; and Matt Murray, MD, a Fort Worth pediatrician and vice chair of TMA’s Health Information Technology Ad Hoc Committee. Thanks to each of you.

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