Close to 100 physicians, residents, medical students, and TMA Alliance members came to Austin to participate in TMA’s First Tuesdays at the Capitol. The 2016-17 state budget was the big topic of conversation. Now it’s your turn to weigh in on medicine’s funding priorities. Look for a TMA action alert today asking you to call your representative and senator. Tell them you want better Medicaid payments for primary care, more graduate medical education slots for Texas residents, a stronger public health defense system, better wellness services for low-income women, and better mental health care. We expect budget negotiators to finish up their work in the coming week. Here’s an update on the status of some of our other legislative priorities:
- We expect the Senate Finance Committee today to make some important tax decisions, including whether to back repeal of the $200 annual occupation tax on some 400,000 professionals, including physicians. If your senator is on the committee, please call and urge the panel to include the occupation tax repeal in its version of House Bill 7.
- The House of Representatives Friday gave preliminary approval to House Bill 1514 by Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville). It would help physicians’ offices easily identify patients who are eligible for the Affordable Care Act’s 90-day grace period.
- Two TMA-backed vaccination bills won final approval in the House last week despite the full-court press antivaccine groups put on to spread misinformation about them.
- The Senate State Affairs Committee heard testimony from TMA and others on House Bill 80, which would impose a statewide ban on texting or talking on handheld phones while driving.