House votes to stave Medicare cuts; Senate action pending ...

The U.S. House of Representatives has taken the first step toward averting a Medicare disaster by canceling government plans to cut physician payments by 4.4 percent on Jan. 1. The Senate has yet to vote on the plan, which is included in a massive government budget bill. Outcome of a Senate vote is far from certain; news reports indicate that Vice President Dick Cheney has cut short an oversees visit to return to Washington in case he’s needed to cast a tiebreaking vote. The House action follows calls from more than 360,000 physicians across the country, and an intense lobbying effort by the American Medical Association, American College of Physicians and many other national specialty societies.

posted by Raif Calvert at 3:39 pm on December 20, 2005

Physicians' Medicare reimbursements still scheduled to drop in 2006 ...

Physicians’ Medicare reimbursements are still scheduled to drop 4.4 percent on Jan. 1 unless Congress takes some action to the contrary in the two weeks remaining in this year’s session. The U.S. House of Representatives returns to Washington this week to continue its work on balancing next year’s federal budget; the Senate goes back next week. All eyes are focused on a House-Senate conference committee. The Senate’s version of the budget bill would boost physicians’ Medicare rates by 1 percent next year. Unfortunately, it also includes a Medicare pay-for-performance proposal opposed by the American Medical Association and a permanent ban on physician self-referral to new limited-service hospitals. The House plan includes no Medicare provisions, but it does have some steep cuts in Medicaid funding. U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Ennis), who is chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, will be a key player in the negotiations.

posted by Raif Calvert at 2:38 pm on December 5, 2005

Budget reconciliation package approved ...

The United States Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) approved its budget reconciliation package, which would authorize $10 billion in cuts to Medicare ($5.75 billion) and Medicaid ($4.25 billion) over 5 years. The Medicaid cuts do not compromise patient care or most providers and the bill would give a 1.1% increase in Medicare fees in lieu of the scheduled 4.4% cut. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Ennis, TX) is still marking up its bill, which calls for much deeper cuts. The proposal assumes $11 billion in savings from Medicaid but no cuts in Medicare. Among the more controversial provisions is to allow states to require cost sharing for new services, including "non-emergency" hospital services for all most categories of enrollees, including children, and higher copays for prescription drugs; allow states to require premium payments for some categories of patients; and to allow cost-sharing for the first time for some categories of children. The House proposal also would allow states to limit benefits for children enrolled at the state's option (excludes mandatory categories of enrollees, which is by and large all Texas has). The House bill also would authorize a 10 state pilot of "health opportunity accounts," similar to HSAs, for Medicaid children and low-income parents.

posted by Raif Calvert at 10:39 am on October 27, 2005

Liability reforms still bringing savings ...

All five of Texas’ largest physician liability insurers have announced rate cuts this year. They will produce about $48.6 million in annualized savings for Texas physicians, according to the Texas Alliance for Patient Access, of which TAIMS is a member. Since Texas Medical Liability Trust announced its 5-percent cut and $10 million dividend last month, American Physicians Insurance Exchange and Medical Protective both declared their second reductions of the year. Advocate MD, which opened its doors shortly after the 2003 liability reforms passed, also cut premiums. All of the carriers credit Texas’ improved in the post-Proposition 12 liability climate.

posted by Raif Calvert at 2:02 pm on October 10, 2005

Texas Physicians help with Rita relief ...

First Texas needed physicians and nurses to monitor evacuated nursing home patients and other Texans with special needs. As Hurricane Rita began battering deep East Texas, the calls came in for physicians and nurses to care for a broad array of people in evacuation shelters along Rita’s path. Texas physicians continue to work closely with the American Red Cross and Gov. Rick Perry’s Division of Emergency Management to link volunteers with the need for their professional help. The flood waters are receding, but medical personnel in some areas remain scarce. To volunteer, please contact Gayle Love, director of TMA’s Department of Public Health, through the TexMed web site (link).

posted by Raif Calvert at 11:13 am on September 26, 2005

Feds to pay for evacuee's care ...

Strong efforts from U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn and Gov. Rick Perry led the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to agree to pay all of the costs for Medicaid and Childrens’ Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage of Hurricane Katrina evacuees in Texas. The five-month guarantee is retroactive to Aug. 25. CMS also promises enhanced benefits, including mental health coverage. For patients who do not qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, CMS is establishing an “uncompensated care pool” to reimburse physicians and hospitals. CMS Administrator Mark McClellan, MD, announced the agreement at TMA Summit 2005.

posted by Raif Calvert at 1:38 pm on September 19, 2005

Hurricane victims desperately need assistance from TAIM members ...

Physicians from across the state are rushing to the aid of hurricane victims. More than 400 physicians already have signed up to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Texas’ physicians answered Gov. Rick Perry’s Department of Emergency Management request for medical assistance. Doctors and other health care providers are needed to give urgent health care to thousands of storm refugees in Louisiana and throughout the Gulf Coast. Texas doctors also are providing care to refugees evacuated to Houston, Dallas, and parts of East Texas. Texas physicians have signed up to serve for a week or even a month. Hundreds of doctors have offered their expertise, while others have offered mobile care clinics, medical residents, faculty, and staff. Many are bringing their inventory of pharmaceutical samples. Medical societies in both Dallas and Houston also are preparing to help refugees from Katrina who are pouring into those communities. The Dallas County Medical Society is recruiting volunteer physicians to staff up to 12 Red Cross shelters that will open in the coming hours and days. Reunion Arena is opening for 1,800 evacuees. These people do not need emergency care, but they do need basic medical care and in some cases medications such as insulin, blood pressure medications, heart medications, and antidepressants. The Red Cross asked Dallas County physicians to plan on providing these services for three weeks to three months. Similarly, in Houston, local health department officials are opening the Astrodome to care for evacuees from the New Orleans Superdome. The Harris County Medical Society is mobilizing physician volunteers, including the area’s large number of retired physicians, to provide medical care for these men, women, and children. TAIM members who want to respond to the governor’s call for help should contact Gayle Love, TMA’s director of public health, at (800) 880-1300, ext. 1670, or gayle.love -at- texmed.org.

posted by Raif Calvert at 3:33 pm on August 31, 2005

79th State Legislature Wrap-Up

The 79th Texas Legislative Extended Session has ended. A detailed wrap up is available:

The 79th Texas Legislature probably won't be remembered among internal medicine's days of glory and you won't see internists making victory laps around the Capitol any time soon. In fact, you're more likely to breathe a sigh of relief and be glad it's over. With as many slings and arrows as medicine dodged this session, things could have been a lot worse ... read on

posted by Raif Calvert at 3:56 pm on August 5, 2005

No taxes on physician practices ... for now.

The Texas Senate and House of Representatives have finished tax bills to pay for big cuts in local school property taxes. Neither bill would tax elective cosmetic surgery nor increase the occupations fee. Neither would expand the corporate franchise tax to cover partnerships or most physician practices. Sen. Kyle Janek, MD (R-Houston) led the fight in the Senate to kill the business tax expansion. Some complex physician practices organized as corporations could be affected by the closure of some tax loopholes. The House and Senate have until the special session ends July 20 to work out their differences. TAIMS will continue to work diligently to ensure that the Texas Legislature knows that it is “bad medicine” to tax physician practices.

posted by Raif Calvert at 1:59 pm on July 11, 2005

Governor Perry calls special session on public school finance/tax reform ...

The House Ways and Means Committee voted out a tax plan that would close franchise tax loopholes, add a penny to the sales tax, and place a $1 tax on cigarettes. The bill passed on a 5-4, party-line vote, with Jim Keffer (R-Eastland), Kent Grusendorf (R-Arlington), Ken Paxton (R-McKinney), John Smithee (R-Amarillo), and Beverly Woolley (R-Houston) voting for it. Reps. Vilma Luna (D-Corpus Christi), Allan Ritter (D-Nederland), Al Edwards (D-Houston), and Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) voted against the measure. Both Representatives Villarreal and Smithee offered plans for consideration. Representative Smithee's was voted out of committee. It would cut the top local school property tax rate — now $1.50 per $100 valuation — to $1.23 in the first year and $1.12 in the second. It also would close the Delaware and Geoffrey loopholes to the franchise tax by bringing in corporate partners. However, the tax debate is far from over. Once the tax bill goes to the House floor this week, it could take on an entire new shape. Medicine is still not out of the woods. Amendments to tax elective cosmetic surgery or increase physicians' occupational tax could be added at any time. TAIMS will continue work diligently to fight such harmful amendments.

posted by Raif Calvert at 9:46 am on July 5, 2005

The 79th Texas Legislative Session ends ...

The 79th Texas Legislative Session has come to a close Sine Die. A detailed wrap up and TAIMS legislative score card are available (link). One caveat needs to be mentioned. Governor Rick Perry has until June 19th to dust off the veto pen. In addition, there are grumblings of a special session on the public school finance reform/tax issue. Stay tuned for any information on veto action or special session.

posted by Raif Calvert at 2:06 pm on June 7, 2005

TAIMS goes to Washington ...

TAIMS had outstanding representation at the ACP 13th Annual Leadership Day on Capitol Hill May 17-18 in Washington, D.C. Drs.; Abe Delgado, Austin; Scott Yates, The Colony; Tapan Kadia, Houston; Robert Jackson, Houston; Roxanne Tyroch, El Paso; Gene Stokes, San Angelo; Ben George, San Antonio represented TAIMS at the biggest Leadership Day ever. The Texas delegation met with the offices of Representatives Lamar Smith, Mike Conaway, Michael McCaul, Pete Sessions, Michael Burgess, Joe Barton, John Culberson, Sam Johnson, Sylvestre Reyes. In addition, TAIMS was able to meet with the offices of both Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Senator John Cornyn. Among the many issues discussed were physician payment, access to care, liability reform, patient safety, quality improvement, and electronic health records.

posted by Raif Calvert at 8:32 am on May 23, 2005

Taxes, taxes and more taxes ...

Again, this week, taxes are the talk of the Capitol. The Senate version of the tax bill is headed to the floor of the Senate on Tuesday. The new taxes would pay for big cuts in local school property taxes and other school finance reforms. House Bill 3, as approved last week by the Senate Finance Committee, includes a revised state franchise tax that would apply to most physicians’ practices. The 4-percent tax would apply to earned surplus (profits) plus 15 percent of payroll. The franchise tax would apply to all Texas businesses except sole proprietorships, corporations with less than $150,000 in gross receipts, or partnerships with gross receipts less than $300,000 per year. In addition, professional associations would have to pay the tax. The Senate Finance Committee adopted an amendment that gives physicians a 20-percent tax credit on all Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) revenues. The credit still does not recognize the work physicians perform in both charity care and delivering care to elderly and disabled Texans on Medicare.

posted by Raif Calvert at 9:49 am on May 10, 2005

The tax bill cometh ...

In the Senate Finance Committee this week, physicians will testify that any taxes on their practices is bad public policy and bad for Texas. TAIM member Spencer Berthelsen, MD, and PCC board member Jane Rider, MD, also will explain to the panel how best to craft any tax credits for charity care or care for patients on Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The committee is working on a tax bill that would allow the state to cut local school property taxes. The bill includes a "reformed" franchise tax that would tax both profits and employee wages. The bill would close several loopholes, and exempt sole proprietors and entities deriving 90 percent of their income from passive sources.

posted by Raif Calvert at 1:21 pm on May 2, 2005

As we enter the final month ...

As the Texas Legislature enters its final 30 days, the nervousness and perhaps panic on the faces of legislators is quite apparent. Seasoned veterans of the legislature know that this is "do or die" time for obtaining committee hearings for bills. Legislators are scrambling to convince committee chairs to grant public hearings for hundreds of pieces of legislation. Floor debates in the House and Senate are running for several hours at a time and committee hearings are stretching deep into the night as chair persons, mostly as a courtesy, agree to grant hearings for their colleagues. The truth is that if a legislator doesn’t have their bill out of its originating committee by now, chances are very high that the bill will die a slow, quiet death. TAIMS continues to monitor and advocate on the major issues affecting healthcare that still remain unresolved: taxes, Medicaid, GME, public health/obesity, etc.

posted by Raif Calvert at 10:06 am on April 28, 2005

Big Push for Preceptorship programs ...

The majority of last week TAIMS was in San Francisco, California attending the ACP Annual Meeting. All went well including one particularly successful highlight. Dr. Wayne Riley, TAIM President, made a presentation in the State Healthcare Networking meeting entitled "Texas: The Long and Winding Road ... Continued." The presentation focused on the continued efforts in Texas regarding medical malpractice tort reform. Dr. Riley was very well received. TAIMS' efforts in the coming days and weeks will include, among other priorities, increased funding and restoration of cuts to the GIMSPP (General Internal Medicine Statewide Preceptor Program). Members of the House and Senate Conference Committee have been named and will begin meeting this week to "iron" out differences in the state budget.

posted by Raif Calvert at 11:06 am on April 18, 2005

The Power of Testimony ...

Last week saw many bills being voted out of committees in the House and Senate. The Lege’ is approaching “crunch time” and if one’s bill hasn’t been voted out of committee by now, chances of forward movement are slim. In addition, several physicians from around the state traveled to Austin in order to testify in favor of and in opposition to these bills. The highlight of the week was that the House approved a 2005-06 state budget that restores some Medicaid cuts but not the 2.5-percent cut in physician payments. Joe Annis, MD, testified in favor of a bill that would give the State Board of Medical Examiners authority to discipline physicians who testify fraudulently in a liability case. And TMA Council on Legislation Chair Spencer Berthelsen, MD, testified against a bill that would prohibit physicians and providers from referring a patient for any health services or supplies in which they have a direct or indirect investment.

posted by Raif Calvert at 10:51 am on April 11, 2005

TAIMS honors medical students ...

This week will see an emphasis from TAIMS' advocacy in the area of graduate medical education. Over 150 medical students and residents from across Texas will be visiting the Capitol in order to lobby for a day. TAIMS and TMA will be involved in an early morning briefing in order to prep the students for their visits with legislators. The goal of the visits will be to stress how important the funding of GME is to ensuring the continued safety and health of Texas' patients. In addition, TAIMS and TMA have secured the presentation of a House Concurrent Resolution to be read on the House and Senate floors by Representative Dan Branch (R-Dallas) and Senator Royce West (D-Dallas), respectively. The HCR will honor the students for their efforts and achievements and have them physically recognized in each chamber.

posted by Raif Calvert at 11:06 am on April 4, 2005

Friend or Foe?

This week at the Capitol was spent intensely analyzing legislation in the committee process and deciding whether to support, monitor or oppose. The process is commonly referred to as "dropping a card". For instance, if TAIMS is supporting an issue, bill or bill author in a committee there will be a witness affirmation card filled out by a TAIMS physician representative or staffer and "dropped" at the hearing. Generally when in support of a bill, TAIMS does not testify (which, in the interest of brevity, is much appreciated by the committee members). However, legislative protocol does strongly suggest testimony in the case of bill opposition. More specifically, when TAIMS is opposed to a bill, courtesy dictates approaching the author and all committee members before a hearing and providing evidentiary policy outling the reasons for opposition. Generally, legislators are quite appreciative of being notified beforehand of opposition to their proposed legislation and, in some cases, will postpone hearing of the bill in order to work with TAIMS in discussing measures gain support.

posted by Raif Calvert at 11:02 am on March 28, 2005

At the halfway point ...

The 79th Legislative session is rapidly approaching the halfway point and members of the legislature are beginning to get nervous about the fate of their respective bills. Both the House and Senate will be taking an extensive Easter break and upon returning next week, will have roughly five weeks to get their business taken care of. The conventional wisdom says that any bills expected to work thought the entire process need to have been authored/sponsored by a committee chair or at least a very prominent member of the legislature (who are usually chairs anyway). It is thought that many of the bills, particularly by House members, whose assigned numbers are in the 3000-4000 range will die a slow, quiet death without ever receiving a hearing.

posted by Raif Calvert at 10:41 am on March 21, 2005

The Tax Bill Cometh ...

This week will see a battle on the House floor over HB 3 (also known as "the tax bill"). HB 3 is expected to draw both support and criticism from both sides of the aisle. There have already been dozens and dozens of amendments filed with the Chief Clerk of the House. Currently, the bill does include a tax in some form or another on physician practices. Of particular interest are amendments being offered by Rep. Carlos Uresti (D, San Antonio) and Rep. Rick Hardcastle (R, Vernon). Rep. Uresti's amendment would remove physicians and their practices from the bill completely. A much more likely scenario would be the passage of the amendment offered by Rep. Hardcastle. This amendment would allow for a physician to apply credit toward their tax liability. This credit would be directly related to the amount of Medicaid, Medicare and/or CHIP that a practice accepts.

posted by Raif Calvert at 9:33 am on March 14, 2005

Voter Voice in Action ...

Last week saw the first interactive utilization of Voter Voice. Voter Voice is a web-based interactive program designed to enhance the TAIMS grassroots and advocacy network. For a first time use, it was a rousing success. Voter Voice allows TAIMS to craft a specific issue or message and then send it to TAIM members who, in turn, cater the message personally and then send it to their local and statewide legislators. Specifically, last week a letter was created by TAIMS opposing the proposed legislative budget cuts to the primary care residency and preceptor programs. The letter was then sent to over 4000 TAIM members with instructions on how to register for Voter Voice and then forward the letter to their legislators. TAIMS received over 200 confirmations of letters being sent to legislators. This is only the beginning. Be on the lookout for more messages from the TAIMS Advocacy Network and Voter Voice with instructions on how to get involved.

posted by Raif Calvert at 10:59 am on March 7, 2005

Gathering the troops ...

TAIMS, TMA and the Primary Care Coalition have joined forces once again to lead the charge for primary care physicians. Chaired by Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), a Senate subcommittee has come close to shelving the planned imposition of the STAR+PLUS HMOs onto all Medicaid patients in and around the state's urban counties. The three groups, county judges, health care providers, business leaders, and consumers are building political momentum to end the STAR+PLUS expansion permanently. TAIMS has been hitting Capitol offices reiterating the stance that STAR+PLUS is not an effective or efficient health care model. It sends valuable health care dollars out of state, into the pockets of for-profit HMOs.

posted by Raif Calvert at 2:22 pm on February 28, 2005

Budget on the fast track ...

Among the highlights of the last week in the Capitol is the warp-speed movement of the state budget through the committee process. In fact, one Capitol old-timer that TAIMS staff spoke with stated that he hadn't seen it move this quick since 1961! One of the consequences of a fast-moving and rather miserly budget is that issues, if not paid attention to, can be decided without enough input from the public. One of these issues is the 9.3% proposed cut by the Higher Education Coordinating Board for the primary care residency and preceptor programs. As mentioned in last week's blog, there has been testimony by primary care physicians outlining the importance of these programs and the devastating affect that any more budget cuts would have. An important aside to remember is that these programs took massive cuts in the last biennium as well. TAIMS continues to vehemently oppose any further cuts and is advocating for reinstatement of monies to the 2002-2003 levels.

posted by Raif Calvert at 1:51 pm on February 21, 2005

Testimony on GME and preceptor programs ...

The highlight of the week was definitely a hearing of the House Appropriations Sub-committee on Education chaired by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R, Brenham). The committee heard testimony from the Higher Education Coordinating Board regarding their legislative appropriations request. Included with in the Coordinating Board’s agenda was funding for primary care residency and preceptor programs. After several hours of testimony from the agency, it was time for public testimony. TAIMS and the Primary Care Coalition had arranged for Dr. Joane Baumer -- a Family Practitioner from Ft Worth -- and Dr. Ernie Buck -- a Pediatrician from Corpus Christi -- to address the committee. Dr. Baumer focused her testimony on the importance of continued funding of primary care residency programs in Texas. She was very well received by the committee and, in fact, was asked several in-depth questions. Dr. Buck centered his testimony on the benefits of continued funding for primary care preceptor programs. The next step in the process includes appearing in front of the Senate Committee on Finance for another round of funding testimony.

posted by Raif Calvert at 10:51 am on February 14, 2005

Taxes, taxes, taxes ...

The big news in the Capitol of late is the introduction of a school finance plan. The House Public Education Committee begins hearings tomorrow on a major school finance rewrite filed by Rep. Kent Grusendorf (R-Arlington), the committee chair. House Bill 2 would boost funding for education by $1.5 billion annually. It would cut the maximum local property tax rate for schools from $1.50 to $1 per $100 valuation; the state would make up the $5.5 billion-a-year difference. HB 2 has no details on how the state would raise the extra $7 billion annually. State leaders already have agreed that at least one component of the tax bill would be a broad-based business tax that either replaces or expands the current franchise tax. Currently, physician practices would be included in such a tax. TAIMS, with the support of TMA and Primary Care Coalition (PCC), continues to vehemently oppose any taxes on physician practices. TAIMS advocacy efforts have been telling lawmakers that more taxes would hurt an important part of Texas' economy and that doctors already pay a $1 billion-per-year “hidden tax” in unreimbursed charity care.

posted by Raif Calvert at 1:34 pm on February 7, 2005

Committee assignments have been made ...

The Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor have made the much anticipated committee assignments that were mentioned in last week’s blog. Committees of interest to healthcare will see a few changes, particularly in the House. Diane Delisi (R, Temple) will chair House Public Health. The vast majority of bills affecting medicine and healthcare will be assigned to her committee. Representative Delisi has been a medicine and physician friendly advocate in the legislature for many years. Suzanna Hupp (R, Lampasas) will be chairing House Human Services. She is a new chair to this committee which will see a few healthcare related issues such as psychotropic drugs prescribed to foster children and even more importantly any legislation concerning the treatment and regulations regarding nursing home residents, etc. In the Senate, longtime healthcare advocate Jane Nelson (R, Flower Mound) will continue to chair Senate Health and Human Services Committee. This committee will be assigned all healthcare and medicine issues in the Senate.

posted by Raif Calvert at 1:54 pm on January 31, 2005

Let’s get down to business ...

The presidential inauguration has come and gone. Legislators have been arriving here in Austin in droves to prepare for the first full week of the 79th Texas Legislative Session. By far, the buzz of the week is the waiting and anticipation of committee assignments. Each legislator has the opportunity to make committee requests and, depending on which chamber they sit in, submit them to the Lt. Governor and the Speaker, respectively. The Speaker and the Lt. Governor are at liberty to grant or decline committee requests as they see fit. Unlike Washington DC, seniority plays a much smaller role in the Texas legislative committee process. TAIMS is particularly interested in the awarding of chairs to the Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees as well as the public health committees in each chamber.

posted by Raif Calvert at 9:13 am on January 24, 2005

Dewhurst introduces a tax plan that includes physicians ...

Though the 79th legislative session is only one week old, already there has been one extremely important issue has come to the table. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says all 31 state senators back the school finance plan he unveiled. The package includes a new tax on nearly all businesses, including physicians’ practices. Solo practitioners are not included, but the new tax would cover everyone else -– including partnerships and professional corporations. TAIMS continues to join with the TMA and PCC in opposing any taxes, whatsoever, on physicians. The argument stands that more taxes would hurt an important part of Texas' economy (healthcare) and that doctors already pay a $1 billion per year in unreimbursed charity care. It is still very early in the legislative "game" so stay logged on.

posted by Raif Calvert at 10:46 am on January 17, 2005

Good news on the eve of session ...

On this day before the 79th Legislative Session here in the Lone Star State, good news has hit the wire. Carol Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, has announced that there will be no projected shortfall in the Texas state budget. Initially, it was thought that lower than usual sales tax revenues and overall slow economic growth would result in a shortfall in the hundreds of millions. In fact, Strayhorn has actually projected a 400 million dollar surplus. It has been speculated that this surplus will be used to address one of the Governor’s designated emergency issues for the session, most likely the overhaul of Texas Child Protective Services.

posted by Raif Calvert at 1:36 pm on January 10, 2005

One week and counting ...

The 79th Texas Legislative Session will be upon us in exactly one week. Opening ceremonies will begin at noon on Tuesday January 11th at the Capitol Building here in Austin. Legislators will leave their home districts, kiss their children and spouses goodbye and begin the 140 day adventure known as "session." The 79th promises to provide even more of the excitement and possibly the rancor of the 78th and following special sessions. By far, the immediate priority is overhauling the methods by which Texas funds our public schools. In fact, it has been speculated that this overwhelming priority has resulted in the relatively low amount of pre-filed pieces of legislation (approximately 200 to date). Top healthcare priorities include: obesity, Medicaid/CHIP, taxes, Workers' Compensation, TSBME Sunset and countless other issues. So tune in, get involved ... and buckle up.

posted by Raif Calvert at 3:55 pm on January 4, 2005

The Primary Care Coalition determines its banner issues ...

After seeking input from physician members of the Texas Academy of Internal Medicine Services (TAIMS), Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) and Texas Pediatric Society (TPS), the Primary Care Coalition (PCC) has solidified the three banner issues for the upcoming 79th legislative session. Obesity, Medicaid and Graduate Medical Education (GME) will receive the most emphasis with regard to legislative advocacy this coming session. In addition, the PCC will continue to work in close correlation with the TMA and other physician specialty societies on issues such as worker’s compensation, public school finance reform, obesity/immunizations and Board of Medical Examiners Sunset Review. The 79th, which is less than a month away, is shaping up to be another difficult session for Texas’ physicians. TAIMS and the PCC will continue to work tirelessly in advocacy efforts for its members.

posted by Raif Calvert at 2:38 pm on December 13, 2004

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