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Monday, June 15, 2015

Box Score: Home Runs and Solid Defense Mark Legislative Session for Medicine

We’re working on our wrap-up document from the 2015 Texas Legislature, using a baseball box score analogy to mark our wins and losses. Today I want to share a sneak peek on a few issues:
  • Home Run: Graduate medical education (GME) funding gets a big boost in the 2016-17 state budget. Our goal is to have 1.1 entry-level residency positions for each graduating medical student. That would ensure we have enough slots for the Texas students who want to stay here and to recruit from other states. To meet that goal, we need to add almost 600 GME positions by 2022. Lawmakers appropriated enough money for the next two-year budget to keep the new positions they added in 2013 and to create up to 125 new slots. The Legislature also passed a separate bill to create a permanent endowment of roughly $300 million to be used solely to help expand GME starting in fiscal year 2018. Thanks goes to Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), the Senate Finance Committee chair, for making this one of her priorities.

  • Home Run: TMA collaborated with associations representing a total of 600,000 Texas professionals to win passage of House Bill 7 by Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) and Senator Nelson, which eliminates the $200 occupation tax physicians pay each year. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill today.

  • Home Run: You won’t need a state controlled substance permit starting Sept. 1, 2016, because we passed Senate Bill 195 by Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), and Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton). The bill also moves the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program from the Texas Department of Public Safety to the Texas State Board of Pharmacy.

  • Perfect Game: Once again, not a single bill passed that would expand midlevel practitioners’ scope of practice beyond what is safely within their education, skills, or training. Many lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, in the House and Senate, stood with us on these bills.

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