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Monday, June 27, 2011

HEALTH BILL SPENDS WEEK IN LIMBO AS SPECIAL SESSION NEARS END

Disagreements over how many more restrictions legislators would put on abortions stymied consideration of Senate Bill 7, the omnibus health care bill that rolls up many measures from the regular session of the Texas Legislature. In addition to making huge changes in Texas’ health care delivery systems, the bill would deny state funding to public hospital districts that perform abortions, except in the case of a medical emergency. The week-long delay came over the definition of “medical emergency.” Compromise language in the new conference committee report on SB 7 says the medical emergency exception would apply only when the fetus could not survive outside the womb. The latest word is that the bill, by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton), likely will be up for House and Senate consideration today. The special legislative session ends Wednesday, with many other key issues still unresolved. SB 28 by Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee a week ago but has made no progress since. It would ban smoking in some public places and could save the state more than $30 million in Medicaid costs.

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