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June 7, 2015                                                                                             Vol. 4, No. 39





84th Legislative Session adjourned sine die on June 1


By Mary E. Nava, MBA

Chief Governmental and Community Relations Officer 


Since my last writing, several more bills of importance to medicine finally passed and are awaiting signature by Gov. Greg Abbott: 


Senate Bill 195 -- which would eliminate the state's Controlled Substance Registration (CSR) permit program, effective Sept. 1, 2016; Senate Bill 202 -- which extends the life of the Texas Department of State Health Services for another 12 years, with extensive changes to agency operations; Senate Bill 207 -- on the Medicaid Office of Inspector General, improves the OIG's accountability and institutes fair rules and processes for physicians accused of waste, fraud or abuse; Senate Bill 239 -- would establish an additional loan remittance program to medical graduates choosing to practice as psychiatrists or other mental health professionals in an underserved Texas county; Senate Bill 760 -- on improving oversight and accountability of Medicaid HMO's physician networks; Senate Bill 791 -- would increase the availability of educational material on congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) in infants; House Bill 1621 -- on utilization review appeals, would require a 30-day advance notice of an adverse utilization review determination involving prescription drugs or IV infusions; House Bill 1624 -- on tougher requirements for health plans to post accurate and up-to-date drug formularies and network directories on publicly accessible Internet pages; House Bill 3519 -- would allow Medicaid to pay for home telemonitoring services for patients with two or more specific medical conditions and a history of frequent hospital admissions or ER visits; and House Bill 3781 -- would create the Texas Health Improvement Network, a collaborative, multi-entity initiative, housed within the UT system, to address significant health disparities in our state.


In addition, both chambers of the legislature approved a $203 billion state budget for the 2016-17 biennium, which includes $53 million for GME expansion grants, appropriates $4 million for existing family medicine residency programs and $3 million to revitalize the Statewide Primary Care Preceptorship Program.  The budget also includes significant increases for women's health, mental health programs and tobacco cessation programs.  On the tax front, House Bill 7 includes the repeal of the $200 per year occupation tax, which physicians and other professionals in Texas pay; and House Bill 32 cuts the state franchise tax by 25 percent.


Stay tuned to this column for more updates as we wait to hear on bills that are signed into law or vetoed in coming weeks.  Sunday, June 21, is the last day the governor can sign or veto bills passed during the regular legislative session.  Updates will be provided as information becomes available.


For local discussion on this and other legislative advocacy issues, consider joining the BCMS Legislative and Socioeconomics Committee by contacting Mary Nava.


BCMS Call for Nominations


Physician-members of the Bexar County Medical Society:


This is the time of year we ask for nominations for elected officers to lead the Bexar County Medical Society. I would like to challenge all member-physicians to think hard about who should be elected to impact the direction of medicine in San Antonio and Bexar County.


We need strong leaders. Apathy is not a strategy. Please think about who you want to represent you to your colleagues and the outside world; let's have multiple candidates running for every position. Practices would be well-served to designate representative physicians from those practices or other practices to get involved to make a difference. We really need you! The society is only as good as the physicians you elect to run it!


To learn more and nominate online, click here.



Steve Fitzer

CEO/Executive Director

Bexar County Medical Society








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