Legislative Updates

Together, we can and do make a difference.

HCMS and TMA represent the majority of Texas physicians. With more than 11,500 physicians in Harris County and nearly 50,000 in Texas, we have a strong voice in the Texas Capitol, with significant influence on medical legislation and socioeconomic issues that affect physicians, their practices, and their patients. With your membership and participation, we can and do make a difference!

86th Texas Legislature Wrap-Up

The work of the 86th Texas Legislature ended when Govenor Greg Abbott signed his last bill. Now we can assess what happened, and equally importantly, what did not happen this session. 

Among those bills the Governor signed was Senate Bill 1742 by Senator Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio). This bill requires greater transparency with prior authorizations and mandates that utilization reviews be conducted by a Texas-licensed physician in the same or similar specialty as the physician requesting the service or procedure. It also requires health plan directories to clearly identify which physician specialties are in-network at network facilities. This bill was a top priority for HCMS this session.

The governor also signed House Bill 3284 by Representative J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville) which will delay the mandate to check the prescription monitoring program (PMP) until March 2020. The Texas Medical Association fought hard for the delay to give the PMP time to fully integrate with physicians’ electronic records systems. This reduces the hassle involved in using an important clinical tool. HB 3284 also requires electronic prescribing of opioids unless a waiver is granted. Electronic prescribing diminishes the chance of opioids being misused.

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) got a new 12-year lease on life. Governor Abbott signed House Bill 1504 by Representative Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), which extends the life of the TMB to 2031. In addition, HB 1504 includes provisions to ensure that dismissed or frivolous complaints or disciplinary actions are removed from physicians’ profiles as quickly as possible. It also allows expedited licensing for physicians who hold a full license and are in good standing in another state.

All told, 7,434 bills were filed during the session, which ended May 27. TMA monitored more than 1,900 bills, of which only a handful made it to Governor Abbott.

For the outcome of numerous other bills important to medicine, click here

Get Engaged

  • Attend your local Branch Meetings and communicate with your colleagues about concerns and problems you encounter. Through interaction and discussion, Branch officers can get an understanding of the overarching issues and then bring these to the forefront on behalf of their Branch members. This is the beginning phase for determining future legislative plans and efforts.
  • Join us for First Tuesdays at the Capitol. Senators and representatives listen far better when their physician constituents show up in person. First Tuesdays are held in February, March, April and May during the regular Texas legislative session. The Texas Legislature meets every other year in odd numbered years.
  • Know who your local representatives are and contact them.
  • Take the next step and become part of the HCMS Delegation to TMA.

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