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Monday, February 23, 2015

Physicians Take the Witness Stand for Medicine

Nothing grabs lawmakers’ attention like a physician taking time away from his or her practice to travel to the Capitol to deliver a message. I’m personally grateful to the eight TMA-member physicians who testified last week before state House and Senate committees in support of medicine’s agenda to increase physicians’ Medicaid payments; improve funding for Texas’ women’s health programs and mental health services, and for the Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS’) tobacco and obesity prevention programs; and improve DSHS’ ability to respond to infectious disease outbreaks. In chronological order:
  • San Antonio pediatrician Ryan Van Ramshorst, MD, testified Monday before a House Appropriations Subcommittee on why it’s essential to improve physicians’ Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) payments.
  • Janet Realini, MD, chair of the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition, testified Monday and Thursday to ask lawmakers to support an additional $50 million in funding for women’s health care services to ensure women have access to physicians and health care providers.
  • Athens family physician Doug Curran, MD, vice chair of TMA’s Board of Trustees, testified before the Senate Finance Committee Thursday. He urged the committee to end the 2011 funding cut for services to Medicaid-Medicare, dual-eligible patients.
  • Edinburg pediatrician Martin Garza, MD, testified before the Senate Finance Committee members on the need to enact competitive physician payments in Medicaid and CHIP.
  • Dallas psychiatrist Les Secrest, MD, took the stand at the Senate Finance Committee to support DSHS’ funding requests for mental health and substance abuse prevention, early intervention, and treatment.
  • A member of TMA’s Committee on Infectious Disease, Philip Huang, MD, of Austin, testified on Wednesday and Thursday. He asked House Appropriations Subcommittee and Senate Finance Committee members to support additional DSHS funding for tobacco cessation, infectious disease control, and obesity prevention programs.
  • Lewis Foxhall, MD, a member of TMA’s Board of Trustees, was a resource witness for MD Anderson Hospital at the House Appropriations Subcommittee and Senate Finance Committee Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the importance of the DSHS tobacco Quitline.
  • Joel Dunnington, MD, a former member of TMA’s Council on Public Health, also was on hand both days to testify in support of additional funding for DSHS’ anti-smoking programs.


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