Congratulations Texas! SB1148 Signed By Governor

You did it! Because of the hard work of so many in the physician community, SB1148 made it across the finish line. This has been a long journey. Thank you to all those who testified, wrote letters and made calls–your part was invaluable! 

The bill encountered major opposition from the hospital lobby, ABMS, and others who profit from MOC abuse. Sen. Dawn Buckingham, M.D., the bills author, and Rep. Greg Bonnen, M.D., the House sponsor, stood strong against the attacks and made sure the protections in the bill remained as strong as possible.

You can click here to read the final version as passed. We didn’t get everything we wanted this time but it is a major step towards the final goal of ending MOC mandates.

Here’s a summary of the main provisions in the final bill:

  • MOC cannot generally be required for insurance company participation, or as a condition of payment for in- or out-of-network physicians.
  • Most hospitals will no longer be able to require MOC for staff privileges. There were a few exemptions won by the Hospital lobby including medical schools and “comprehensive cancer centers, as designated by the National Cancer Institute.” For other hospitals, a compromise provision was included to allow MOC requirements only if the medical staff votes to authorize a requirement. The staff can also vote to rescind a requirement.
  • MOC cannot be required as a condition of licensure.

Thank you again for your hard work! The journey is by no means over. We will continue to work on further improvements that will benefit Texas physicians and their patients.

Big Step Towards MOC Victory

A very hard-fought process has resulted in the passage of SB1148 through the Texas Senate 31-0.  We owe a huge thank you to Sen Dawn Buckingham for her efforts in making this happen.  

The next step for the bill is the Texas House. Please contact your Representative ASAP and ask him or her to support SB1148.

If you need to find out who represents you, please visit: http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/find-your-representative/

If you already know who your Representative is, you can visit http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/ and click on his or her name for contact information.

There were many revisions that were made to the original language, but the current text is very strong in prohibiting the typical onerous mandates and high-stakes testing required for maintenance of certification.  This is a victory for both patients and physicians and sends the message that our profession will not submit to the demands of corporate profiteers. The distraction of irrelevant busywork is detrimental to patient care–we can do much better than MOC to continually improve our practices.

The bill restricts the kind of compliance requirements that can be made for maintenance of certification.  It allows a more open and competitive market for various organizations to offer products that satisfy maintenance of certification criteria based on CME credits and without the previous intrusive and onerous mandates.  High stakes exams are prohibited.

Senator Buckingham also made sure that original certification stands and is recognized by the state of Texas.  She truly did everything possible to protect the patient and physician from intrusive testing requirements, including prohibiting the submission and sale of patient data by certifying boards.

Congratulations to Senator Buckingham!  Now, if the Texas House will follow suit, it will be a significant turn for the medical profession away from regulatory overload to a better focus on patient care.

Support SB 1148 and Stop MOC in Texas!

4/8/2017 1am UPDATE:

Hello AAPS Members and Friends!

The time for the hearing that will include SB 1148 has been set for 8am on Tuesday, April 11.

COMMITTEE: Business & Commerce
TIME & DATE: 8:00 AM, Tuesday, April 11, 2017
PLACE: E1.016 (hearing room located on first floor of Capitol Extension)
For map of meeting room locations, click here and see page 3.

Here is a link to the official hearing notice:
http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/schedules/html/C5102017041108001.HTM

The notice states: “Public testimony will be limited to 3 minutes. If submitting written testimony, please provide 20 copies to the committee clerk with your name and bill number on each copy.”

If you are attending and need help making 20 copies of your testimony please just let us know.

Additional important details provided below.


4/7/2017 6am UPDATE:

Thank you for showing such strong support for Dr. Buckingham’s bill to end MOC requirements, SB 1148!  Your comments to the members of the Business and Commerce Committee are being noticed and are making a difference.

We just found out that the Committee plans to include SB 1148 in their hearing next Tuesday, April 11 in Austin. The time hasn’t been announced, but as soon as we obtain the details we will let you know.

Here’s what you can do to help:

1. Physicians are needed to testify at the hearing. Typically, if the hearing starts at 8 am, it could take a few hours of waiting before it is your turn to testify. It can be a test of the will, so if you plan to give oral testimony, please be prepared to commit a few hours to the effort. Oral testimony is limited to 3 minutes typically. Please also bring a printed copy of your testimony to give to the committee.

2. Simply being present at the Capitol and registering to support the bill requires less of a time commitment (you don’t have to wait for your name to be called or for the full hearing) but is still a helpful way to show your support.

Please let us know ASAP, by replying to this email, if you can come to the Capitol Tuesday to help.

3. If you can’t be there in person, you can still give written testimony that can be submitted by someone else, without reading it, at the hearing (we can do this for you if you email us your testimony).

4. You can also send someone to testify on your behalf.  That person would state that he/she represents himself and then note that he/she will be reading the written testimony of Dr.____.

[NOTE: If you scroll to the bottom of this alert there is a template to guide your written testimony.]

Thank you again for your help in supporting this important legislation to benefit Texas patients and their physicians.

~Sheila Page, DO, Chapter President

P.S. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reply to this email or call/text me at (817) 312-7303.


3/31/2017

Dear Texas AAPS members and friends,

Help us fight for SB 1148 which will allow Texas physicians to focus on their patients and NOT meaningless busywork that detracts from time better spent on patient care. This bill, authored by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, would prohibit the requirement of MOC participation for insurance reimbursement and hospital privileges.

The members of the Texas Senate Business and Commerce Committee Need to Hear from YOU today in support of SB 1148! Here are ways you can pitch in to this crucial effort:

Step 1: Email and call the Committee members with a simple message along the lines of: “Please support SB 1148 and end mandates on physicians that interfere with patient care.”

For email you can simply copy and paste the following list of email addresses into the “to” line of an email:

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

Phone numbers can be found below. Calls, when they become numerous, deliver a strong message to the Senators—they need to know you are watching the process. Ask friends and patients to call or email, to bring the perspective from the patients’ side.

COMMITTEE CONTACT INFO

Chair, Sen Kelly Hancock:
(512) 463-0109, [email protected]v
Vice Chair, Sen Brandon Creighton:
(512) 463-0104, [email protected]
Sen Donna Campbell:
(512) 463-0125, [email protected]
Sen Craig Estes:
(512) 463-0130, [email protected]
Sen Robert Nichols:
(512) 463-0103, [email protected]
Sen Larry Taylor:
(512) 463-0111, [email protected]
Sen John Whitmire:
(512) 463-0115, [email protected]
Sen Charles Schwertner:
(512) 463-0105, [email protected]
Sen Judith Zaffirini:
(512) 463-0121, [email protected]

Step 2: The most helpful action you can take is to write a formal letter of testimony and present it at the hearing (see template below). If you cannot physically be there, someone else can read your testimony, but they have to register in their own name, and read your testimony on your behalf.

Another helpful action is to go to the hearing and register in favor of the bill. You do not have to testify, but it is helpful when a few dozen people show up. Remember, the other side will be paying people to be there. That is why the doctors in the trenches get buried in punishing regulation—no one there really represents the working doctors.

I will do everything possible to help you if I know you are planning to be there. Typically, there will be only 48 hrs notice (another reason working doctors get left out of the process). Currently, what I have been told is that we will get a hearing in the Senate on Sen Buckingham’s bill, SB1148, within the next 2 weeks. That is unfortunately all I know for now.

Finally, don’t forget that YOU can make a difference!! If we the physicians cannot step up at this time to defend our profession and our patients, we will certainly continue to lose ground.

All for the Patient,

Sheila Page, DO
President, TxAAPS
[email protected]

P.S. For additional information on this issue please click here.


Formal testimony template:

Date

Business and Commerce Committee

Dear Chairman Hancock and members of the Committee,

1. My name is ____ and I am testifying in favor of SB1148.

2. State whom you represent—a business, an organization, or yourself, which is very common. (if you are reading someone else’s testimony, simply state your name and other information as above, that you represent yourself, and that you are reading the written testimony of Dr. ___.)

3. Describe your practice and your patients and keep this patient-centered as much as possible.

4. Your testimony should be brief. The hearings allow only 2-3 minutes for public testimony.

Here’s sample testimony to help guide your talking points:

This bill would ensure that my patients have access to me as their doctor by controlling how Maintenance of Certification (MOC) is used in Texas. I have no problem completing the 48 hours of Continuing Medical Education required by Texas law, but hospitals and insurance companies should not require doctors to waste time away from patient care on onerous MOC tasks. More importantly, the data is quite clear that MOC does NOTHING TO IMPROVE QUALITY OF MEDICAL CARE. See this JAMA article – https://goo.gl/qDdjqO – that shows that those with life-time Certification were just as good as those who re-certified with MOC.

Comments from AAPS Texas Chapter on the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

Texas legislature seeks to delegate authority to a new interstate bureaucracy

The Sunset Commission bill for the Texas Medical Board, HB3040 and SB315, includes the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which, if passed, would bind Texas to a new quasi-governmental interstate agency with authority to grant expedited medical licenses for physicians who wish to practice in multiple states.

The Compact is new legislation that grants licensing and rule-making authority to an appointed Interstate Medical Licensure Commission that will have power to litigate against states from the US district court in DC.[i]  Additionally, the Compact’s disciplinary and investigative provisions are overly broad and may weaken physician due process rights.[ii] The rules written by this new licensing commission will be binding on states as law and supersede state law.[iii] Continue reading

Say NO To Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Bill in Texas, HB3040 and SB315

Dear Senators and Representatives of Texas,

The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) posts its address as 400 Fuller Wiser Road Euless, TX 76039 and 1300 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite 500 Washington, D.C. 20036. This Federation states its purpose as protecting the public through licensure and regulation and makes its money through licensure and regulation of medical professionals. Currently, physicians receive their license to practice medicine from the State of Texas. The regulation and discipline of physicians is under the auspices of the Texas Medical Board (TMB). The FSMB has been aggressively pursuing Texas, through the TMB, to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact designed by the FSMB, and if HB3040 and SB315 pass, Texas will become a part of this alliance. Reportedly, there is a lot of power behind these bills, including the support of the TMA. Continue reading

Texas Bills to Watch in 2017

HB1482 Shaheen and SB1818 Burton, permits the physician to dispense from the office.  This would apply most commonly to cash-based, or DPC practices that would dispense generic drugs at cost.  Some specialists would be able to help patients who are on Medicare and in the “donut-hole”, paying cash for their medications.

SB382 Burton, allows the physician to donate unused, unopened drugs from one patient who doesn’t need it anymore to another who is in need.

SB1148, Buckingham, HB3310 Zedler, and HB3216 Bonnen prohibits the mandate that physicians participate in Maintenance of Certification programs in order to retain hospital privileges or insurance contracts.

HB752 Meyers, SB833 Hughes requires that a CMO report to the medical board any facility that is interfering in medical decision making of the physician.  It also requires reporting of the CMO if he/she does not serve in this capacity to protect patients from perverse influence on the physician by administration.

HB2878 Sanford, Right of Conscience

Defends the right of a health care worker to refuse to provide a service that conflicts with his/her conscience.  This may apply in many circumstances, for example with corporate systems promoting assisted suicide and other forms of fast-tracking death. We currently have legal protection against coercion to perform abortions, but nothing else.

The bill that must be fought is SB315, Hinojosa, and HB3040 Burkett.

This bill is the Sunset Commission bill for the Texas Medical Board and embedded in it is the Interstate Medical Licensing Compact, which essentially creates a new agency with authority to grant expedited medical licenses for multiple states and write rules that are binding on the state as law and supersede state law.

2017 Texas Capitol Day Highlights

The AAPS Texas Chapter completed a successful Captiol Day on March 1!

A big thank you to the physicians who volunteered their day to walk the halls of the Texas Capitol.  We were proud to support SB 1148, a bill introduced by Senator Dawn Buckingham, MD to prohibit MOC requirements for licensure, hospital staff privileges, and insurance participation. In addition to SB 1148, Captiol Day participants asked legislators to support HB 1482 by Rep. Matt Shaheen to allow in office dispensing of prescriptions.

 

 

Announcing Tx AAPS Capitol Day – March 1, 2017

Dear Texas AAPS members,

We are excited to announce TxAAPS Capitol Day March 1, 2017 in Austin!

Click here for locations and schedule.

It will be a great opportunity for you and fellow AAPS colleagues to meet with your representatives in both houses of the state legislature and share your views on health policy and how it affects your ability to practice medicine.

Now more than ever, it is important that you develop a relationship with your own representatives as well as those in nearby districts.  Your patient population may come from other districts, so your sphere of influence is broad.

We will provide more details as the time nears but need to start collecting a count of who is available.

Please click here to RSVP to save a spot on March 1 at this important event.

Do you know what legislative districts you’re in?  If not you can look that information up here: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/.Our top priority in Austin this year is MOC reform. We will also strongly support legislation to allow in-office dispense of prescription drugs by physicians. Please share with us your wish list for action to protect physicians and patients.

Plan ahead and make sure March 1 is available for you to be in Austin.  We look forward to seeing you there!

All for the Patient,

Sheila Page, DO
President, TxAAPS
[email protected]

AAPS endorses Dawn Buckingham, MD for Texas Senate District 24

Dr. Buckingham, endorsed by AAPS, succeeded in making the runoff for the senate race in Texas SD24! The primary runoff date is May 24, and early voting started Monday, May 16.

95043807-9e3b-4547-acd5-57a4514a8713Texas needs a strong, conservative physician in the Senate who will be willing to stand up against the status quo in the face of encroaching government control of the practice of medicine. She is prepared to tackle head-on the problems faced by private physicians and work to restore the integrity of the patient-physician relationship.

Dr. Buckingham has the experience necessary to be able to find solutions and oppose further entrenchment of third parties in medicine. She will fight for protection of vulnerable lives and to preserve the integrity of the patient-physician relationship.

Dawn Buckingham will be a much-needed voice for private physicians in the Texas Senate.

To learn more about Dr. Buckingham, click here.

To contribute to her campaign, click here.