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|86th Legislative Session|
The 86th Texas Legislature ended on May 27th and, true to form, this session was not without its share of surprises and controversies. The key initiatives that state legislators touted as successful related to school finance and property tax reform. Legislators dubbed their efforts as “transformative.” Legislation totaling $11.6 billion will result in cuts to property taxes, increased spending on pre-kindergarten, cuts to the controversial “Robin Hood” payments from wealthier to poorer school districts, increased funding to impoverished school districts, teacher pay raises, and increasing the burden of the state to offset local school district costs. As with any legislative effort, the “devil is in the details” and many critics are concerned that changes will not be substantive and lasting. Time will tell.
Although it may have been completely coincidental, the Texas Medical Board’s untimely release at the beginning of the 86th legislature of a proposed rule calling for a change to the standing delegation orders specifically as they apply to radiological services by mid-level providers was unfortunate. The timing of this proposed rule change at the beginning of session created a firestorm of controversy related to radiological scope of practice as it pertains to mid-level providers. Bills on both sides of the issue were filed. At the end of the day, nothing was passed legislatively; however, there will be a June stakeholder meeting on this issue and your TRS leadership will continue to monitor and participate in these discussions.
The resurfacing of the surprise billing issue was definitely unexpected. Our legislative leadership team thought this had been effectively dealt with during the last session and over the interim. SB 1264, which prohibits healthcare providers from charging emergency room patients any or all of a bill that insurance does not pay, was passed and forwarded to the Governor for signature. This new law, filed by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R), replaces the existing mediation process with a “baseball-style” arbitration in which insurers and providers submit a one-time, best and final offer for reimbursement. An independent arbiter oversees these negotiations and patients are removed from the arbitration process. The TMA was initially opposed to this legislation, but important safeguard language was added to the bill to assure that healthcare providers will be given a fair shake during the arbitration process. Facility claims will continue to be allowed to go through mediation and any claims that contain professional or technical components of a healthcare provider services will qualify for arbitration. We will need to evaluate how this legislation works in real world situations. In the meantime, practitioners are advised to carefully consider their options regarding services provided to out-of-network facilities. Your TRS legislative leadership team will monitor this new arbitration process to assure that the balance of accountability is maintained with the insurance companies.
While it is important to celebrate our successes, the work is not done. We must always be on the lookout for opportunities to engage civic leaders and promote the practice of radiology. This interim will be no different. Click below for a brief recap on the regular session and what is coming up in the special session.
TRS Bills of Interest & Successes
The 86th 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. Please click here to read more details.