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
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
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
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
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
Governor Rick Perry has until June 19th to dust off the veto pen.
there are grumblings of a special session on the public school finance
reform/tax issue. Stay tuned for any information on veto action or
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
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
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
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
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
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