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Monday, March 23, 2015

Legislature Gets a Healthy Dose of Health Vision

It was a busy and productive week for medicine’s priorities in the 84th Texas Legislature:
  • The Senate Finance Committee took up Senate Bill 18 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) Thursday. The measure aims to allocate an additional $60 million for graduate medical education (GME) expansions. The funding would sustain the 2013 GME expansion programs while building other programs to improve access to care.

  • San Antonio pediatrician Ryan Van Ramshorst, MD, continued his all-star work on the witness stand for TMA and the Texas Pediatric Society. He told the Senate Health and Human Services Committee that Texas physicians strongly support Senate Bill 760 by Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), which would improve oversight and accountability of Medicaid HMOs’ physician networks. He also testified on Senate Bill 791 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) requiring the state to develop and distribute educational materials for pregnant women or women planning a pregnancy about congenital cytomegalovirus. He explained physicians support the education and outreach components outlined in SB 791, but we have concerns with the state dictating specific medical treatments.

  • The Senate Education Committee approved Senate Bill 96 by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen), prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes on school property.

  • The House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee took up House Bill 1433 by Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo) to prevent insurance company delays in adopting appropriate payment for immunizations, serums, and vaccines. The bill was negotiated by TMA to protect the basis for prompt-pay penalties and to prevent efforts to reduce the penalty to 18 percent per year.

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