TMA, THA Each Decry Gov. Abbott’s Veto Of Behavioral Health Bill

Two of the largest medical associations in the country are decrying Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to veto Senate Bill 359, which would have allowed physicians to place a four-hour hold on a mentally ill patient if they are suspected of being a danger to themselves or others.

Filed by state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, the bill garnered overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers but died on Abbott’s desk. As the Texas Tribune reported, Abbott said the bill would “lay the groundwork for further erosion of constitutional liberties.

Texas Medical Association President Tom Garcia, an outspoken supporter of the bill, has already expressed frustration that Abbott vetoed it: “The governor should have reached out to physicians and other medical personnel who provide care in the real world of our emergency rooms before vetoing this legislation. “They would have told him about the patients they encounter who pose a real danger to themselves or to those around them.”

On Wednesday, the Texas Hospital Association spoke out against the veto, noting that the patients would receive crisis psychotic care, “reducing the risk that he or she would self-harm or engage in violent or destructive acts in the community.” The patient would be released after four hours unless the hospital called a peace officer for an emergency detainment.

“The Texas Hospital Association, on behalf of its 400-plus member hospitals, is disappointed that Gov. Greg Abbott chose to veto Senate Bill 359, which would have given physicians in hospitals an important tool to help patients in psychiatric distress and protect community safety.”