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Legislative Update - April 2019
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Priority Legislative Issues That Affect All TCEP Members

We are in the midst of the busiest time of the legislative session. The GRC, Board of Directors, and our lobbyists have been working daily to protect our patients and the professional interests of our members. Thank you to the members who participated in our first ever TCEP Legislative Day at TCEP Connect 19, where we reinforced our messages with the legislature and gained valuable insights. Special thanks to Drs. Diana Fite, Heather Owen, Sam Roberts, Rob Hancock, Carrie De Moor, Paul Kivela, Alison Haddock, AJ Kirk, Cedric Dark, and others for testifying or contributing information for testimony on behalf of emergency physicians throughout the session. And finally, thank you to the countless members who have reached out to the GRC with suggestions and concerns. Remember that TCEP's effectiveness at the Capitol is directly supported when you make a donation to our political action committee, EMPACT. Please support our collective voice by emailing tcep@texacep.org to pledge a donation.

We are following over 200 bills this session and are engaging when appropriate. Here are a few highlights:

Balance Billing

  • SB 1264 (prohibition of balance billing) passed favorably out of the Senate (28-3) with amendments. It will now be considered in the House. TCEP has been strongly engaged on this bill from the beginning, and we are currently working with House legislators and other stakeholders to improve the language of the bill through the House process. TCEP is supportive of the legislature's intent but is seeking amendments to the bill.
  • HB 1832 (prohibition of retroactive utilization review) passed favorably out of committee without amendments. TCEP testified in support of the bill during public hearing.
  • HB 3911 (increasing the frequency of examination of plans for network adequacy) passed favorably out of committee with amendments. TCEP registered in support of the bill during public hearing.
  • HB 1880 (requiring and enforcing accurate network directories) was passed favorably out of committee with amendments. TCEP registered in support of the bill during public hearing.
  • SB 1742 / HB 2630 (relating to required information that health plans must include in their provider directories) passed favorably out of both Senate and House committees. SB 1742 was recommended for the local and uncontested calendar. TCEP registered in support of the bills during public hearing.

Wilful and Wanton Standard / Tort Law

  • HB 2362 (creating exceptions to the current wilful and wanton standard) was left pending in committee. TCEP has been actively engaged on this bill, testifying in opposition to it as written and working with the bill sponsor and other organizations to improve the language of the bill.
  • HB 765 (ties the cap on healthcare malpractice claims to the consumer price index) was left pending in committee. TCEP opposes this bill.

Opioid/Substance Abuse and Prescription Monitoring Program

  • HB 2174 (mandates e-prescribing, creates limitation for acute pain prescriptions, requires opioid-related CME) was passed favorably out of committee and placed on the General State Calendar.  TCEP submitted written testimony on the bill.  We have engaged in stakeholder meetings with legislators and worked with organized medicine groups to make recommendations on bill language.
  • HB 2811 (calling for increased documentation and review when prescribing opioids) was passed favorably out of committee.  TCEP provided written testimony on the bill; however, we are opposed to this bill as it is currently written. TCEP is working with other organized medicine groups and continuing to engage with the bill sponsor.
  • HB 3285 (Rep. Dr. J.D. Sheffield's comprehensive opioids bill based on interim studies) was left pending in committee. Along with other organized medicine groups, TCEP proposed language for this bill. TCEP registered in support of the bill during public hearing.
  • SB 2316 (extending the requirement to check the PMP to March 1, 2020 and establishing an advisory council to oversee implementation and rollout of a new and integrated PMP system) was left pending in committee.  TCEP registered in support of the bill during public hearing.

Scope of Practice

  • HB 1792 (granting APRN's full practice authority after 2,080 hours of training) was left pending in subcommittee. TCEP registered in opposition to the bill during public hearing.
  • HB 29 (allowing physical therapists to treat patients without a physician's referral) was left pending in subcommittee. TCEP registered in opposition to the bill during public hearing.
  • HB 2733 (expanded scope for chiropractors) was left pending in subcommittee. TCEP registered in opposition to the bill during public hearing.

Mental Health

TCEP worked with a coalition of physician groups and the hospital association over the interim to identify ways to reform process for obtaining an order of protective custody (OPC). We are working with legislators and the Office of Court Administration and seeking to establish an online portal where a physician could obtain an OPC in a much more expedited manner.

Trauma Care Funding

More than 24 bills have been filed related to the Driver Responsibility Program (DRP), which currently funds trauma care. The DRP has drawn widespread bipartisan opposition for being a debt trap, though the legislature is conscious of the need to fund the trauma system and is committed to continued funding of the trauma care system without it being directly tied to DRP. TCEP is monitoring these bills closely and will engage as needed.

Sincerely,

Theresa Q. Tran, M.D., M.B.A.
Chair, TCEP Government Relations Committee

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