A priority of TMA’s Behavioral Health Task Force has completed its legislative journey. The Texas House gave final passage to Senate Bill 359 by Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) and Rep. Paul Workman (R-Austin) and sent it to Gov. Greg Abbott to sign. The bill would let physicians 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. With just two weeks left in the session, we’re seeing lots of other progress on our legislative agenda:
- Our bill to require issuers of Affordable Care Act exchange plans (known as qualified health plans) in Texas to display the acronym “QHP” on the plan ID card won House approval Monday then received a Senate committee hearing on Thursday. Sara Austin, MD, an Austin neurologist and member of the TMA Council on Legislation, testified for House Bill 1514 by Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville), before the Senate Business and Commerce Committee.
- Thanks to all the physicians who called the House Calendars Committee members, the bill that would have allowed direct access to physical therapists without a referral from a physician was never scheduled for debate on the House floor.
- The bill to prevent minors from buying e-cigarettes won final approval in the Texas House, 119-24. Senate Bill 97 by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) and Rep. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) is now back in the Senate for consideration of changes the House made to it.
- The House Public Health Committee passed the bill that would eliminate the state’s Controlled Substance Registration permit program. Senate Bill 195 by Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), also would move the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program from the Texas Department of Public Safety to the Texas State Board of Pharmacy.
- The Texas Senate overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 1229 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo). It outlaws health insurance plans’ use of virtual credit card (VCC) payments to settle claims for health care services — a practice that makes you pay to get paid.