Ten TMA member physicians took time away from their practice and took turns testifying for medicine in front of House and Senate committees last week. I send my wholehearted thanks and praise, and I think they deserve yours as well. In chronological order:
- John Holcomb, MD, of San Antonio, and Frank Cho, MD, of Austin testified before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on the sunset bills to reorganize Texas health and human services agencies. Dr. Holcomb also testified before the same panel for Senate Bill 207 by Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen), which specifies that unintended billing errors or coding mistakes are decidedly not Medicaid fraud.
- Keller pediatrician Jason Terk, MD, testified before the House Public Health Committee in support of two bills by Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville), to improve immunizations. Dr. Terk also testified for five bills before that committee to curb minors’ access to e-cigarettes.
- Council on Legislation Chair Dawn Buckingham, MD, and Houston anesthesiologist Sherif Zaafran, MD, testified before the Senate Business and Commerce Committee on Senate Bill 481 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills). They expressed our serious concerns that the legislation eliminates the $1,000 threshold for mediation over bills from facility-based physicians for services provided out of network.
- Pain management specialists C.M. Schade, MD, of Mesquite and Richard Hurley, MD, of Waco testified before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee for Senate Bill 195 by Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), which, among other things, does away with the state’s controlled substance registration.
- Leslie Secrest, MD, a Dallas psychiatrist, and Robert Greenberg, MD, a Temple emergency medicine physician, came before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to urge passage of Senate Bill 359 by Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas). The bill would permit physicians to initiate a four-hour hold on patients who have voluntarily sought care at a hospital or freestanding emergency medical center but then want to leave, though the treating physician believes the patient is a danger to self or others.
- Houston emergency medicine physician Arlo Weltge, MD, testified at the House State Affairs Committee hearing on House Bill 614 by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), which would require the state to establish a registry in which patients could submit their advance directives.