85th Legislative Session
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TRS Bills of Interest & Successes

Successful TRS Bills

The 85th Legislature was one of the busiest legislative sessions for the TRS, and we are thrilled with the remarkable level of success we have experienced this year.  Listed below are some of the specific bills that the TRS actively engaged in and/or closely monitored in this session.

·         SB 507 – Out-of-Network Mediation Update and Enhanced Disclosure

TRS Position: TRS was FOR (in support of) this bill

Status: Passed; Effective 9-1-17

This mediation-expansion bill provides updates to the existing OON mediation process, including making mediation apply to all providers and additional facilities beyond the facility-based providers covered by current law. Additionally, it includes more disclosure requirements to enrollees by health plans, facilities and providers. The added provisions for the existing mediation process do not significantly impact facility-based providers beyond what is currently required.


This was the primary vehicle for “balance billing” issues during the 2017 legislative session, which was beneficial considering the amount of scrutiny this issue has received in recent years. This bill “occupying the space” will pay dividends with our media, public and governmental relations as we continue to see policy makers attempt to influence this issue by giving providers in Texas recognition as being solution-oriented, as well as demonstrating that the issue has been addressed and no further policy is necessary.


·         HB 1036 – Insurance Coverage for Digital Breast Tomosynthesis

TRS Position: TRS was FOR (in support of) this bill

Status: Passed; Effective 01-01-18

HB 1036 will require that any health plan that provides coverage to a female 35 years of age or older must include annual screening by all forms of low-dose mammography, which was redefined in the legislation to include digital mammography and breast tomosynthesis. This legislation will guarantee coverage for the most up-to-date and scientifically accurate breast cancer screening methods.


·         HB 1415/ SB 681 – APRN Licensing and Authority

TRS Position: TRS was AGAINST this bill

Status: Did not pass

HB 1415 and SB 681 would have expanded the scope of practice of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses in a number of ways, including ordering, performing, and interpreting diagnostic tests. There was immense, coordinated opposition amongst the entire house of medicine, including the TRS, to these and many other scope bills this session. Physicians effectively educated legislators on the risks of such changes in these bills. In the House, the bill was never voted on in committee. Moreover, in the Senate the legislation never even received a hearing. Other scope legislation received a similar fate as a result of the efforts of TRS and other physician groups.


·         HB 4011 – Credit Reporting Prohibition

TRS Position: TRS was AGAINST this bill

Status: Failed to pass House

The bill prohibited a consumer reporting agency from furnishing a consumer report containing information related to an amount unpaid by a consumer for nonemergency medical care. The bill required the Health and Human Services Commission to develop a disclosure form for use by health care providers or others concerning the charges to be billed for nonemergency medical care and an explanation of the restrictions on when an amount unpaid by a consumer for nonemergency medical care may be reported to a consumer reporting agency.


·         SB 680 – Step Therapy

TRS Position: TRS was FOR (in support of) this bill

Status: Passed; Effective 9-1-17

The bill empowers physicians to override health plans’ step therapy protocols, allowing them to continue prescribing an effective medication even if the insurer’s step therapy plan calls for a change in medication. The new law takes effect on Sept. 1.


·         HB 62 – Statewide Ban on Texting and Driving

TRS Position: TRS was FOR (in support of) this bill

Status: Passed; Effective 9-1-17

The bill prohibits the use of a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle; creating a criminal offense; modifying existing criminal penalties. This bill is the result of more than ten years of work on this issue. In 2015 and 2013, the proposal passed the House but died in the Senate. In 2011, it traveled through both chambers only to be vetoed by then-Gov. Rick Perry.  The new law takes effect on Sept. 1.


·         SB 1107 – Telemedicine

TRS Position: TRS closely monitored

Status: Passed; Effective no later than January 1, 2018

SB 1107 provides a clear and accountable regulatory structure regarding the establishment of a valid practitioner-patient relationship via telemedicine. Specifically, the bill removes the existing provision that allows the Texas Medical Board (TMB) to establish rules requiring a face-to-face consultation between a patient and a physician providing a telemedicine medical service, and creates a new framework for establishing a valid practitioner-patient relationship in a telemedicine encounter. Importantly, this legislation establishes that the standard of care for a telemedicine service is the same as that for an in-person service and prohibits any agency with regulatory authority establishing rules that impose a higher standard of care than what is required under the bill. It also continues the mental health service exemptions that currently exist in TMB rules.


This legislation was the result of significant work by the TMA throughout the interim, and in the early months of session, to protect patient and physician interests in the state of Texas as the legislature considered thoughtful telemedicine policy.


·         SB 1148 – Maintenance of Certification

TRS Position: TRS closely monitored

Status: Passed; Effective January 1, 2018

SB 1148 – with some exceptions – would prohibit certain hospitals, institutions, programs, or managed care plan issuer from differentiating between physicians based solely on a physician's maintenance of certificate. The bill would also prohibit TMB from requiring maintenance of certification by an applicant for the applicant to be eligible for initial licensure or renewal registration. Eliminating the MOC mandate will save time and resources that can be dedicated to patient care, also protecting physicians who elect to skip what can be a monopolistic MOC process.


It is important to note that in the final days of the legislative session, this bill was strongly opposed by the hospitals, the UTMB system, and some of the specialty societies.


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