The Texas House of Representatives spent a long day and evening debating its version of the 2014-15 state budget. On medicine’s key issues, the $194 billion document is quite similar to the state Senate’s $196 billion plan. Both would spend significantly more money on mental health services, and both would go a long way toward reversing the 2011 session’s cuts in graduate medical education, women’s health services, the Physician Education Loan Repayment Program, and smoking cessation. Neither plan, unfortunately would boost physicians’ Medicaid payments nor reverse the remaining cuts in payments for dual-eligible patients. The two bills now go to a 10-member House-Senate conference committee. In other legislative news:
- Nearly 400 TMA physicians, medical students, and alliance members flooded the building for April’s First Tuesdays at the Capitol. Let’s have another huge crowd at the May 7 First Tuesday.
- A key piece of TMA’s 2013 legislative agenda, House Bill 620 by Rep. Craig Eiland (D-Galveston), won approval from the House Insurance Committee. The bill would regulate silent PPOs — companies or networks that sell, lease, or share physician discounts without the physician’s knowledge or consent.
- Luis Benavides, MD, of Laredo testified in support of a bill that would cut many of the physician hassles in dealing with Medicaid HMOs.
- TMA Board of Trustees member Doug Curran, MD, testified against a bill to cut Medicaid payments for services delivered by an advanced practice registered nurse or physician assistant under the delegated authority of a physician.
- James Humphreys, MD, a member of TMA’s Council on Legislation, testified in opposition to a bill that requires physicians and other health care providers to provide a binding quote as the amount that is accepted as payment in full for a service and to provide it in writing at least 48 hours prior to providing the service, or otherwise forfeit payment.
Watch the video.