Physician Dispensing in Texas Heads to Court

The 86th Texas Legislative Session came to an end without any movement on physicians’ ability to expense a limited number of common prescription drugs, so two Texas doctors are taking their case to the Travis County Civil District Court, where they are claiming the ban on physician dispensing is unconstitutional. Texas is out of step with the rest of the nation when it comes to the rule, as it is just one of five states to ban physicians from dispensing anything but free samples to their patients, though the state does allow doctors to dispense medications if they live more than… Full Story

Adding Transparency and Curbing Costs: Texas Legislature Round-Up

In the most recent legislative session, Texas lawmakers passed three bills addressing surprise medical billing, freestanding emergency room price-gouging, and prescription drug price transparency. The bills are a win in the fight for patient and consumer protection against unforeseen medical billing, an issue that Texas lawmakers have been seeking to put an end to for years. Perhaps the biggest success of the three is the passing of SB 1264, which prohibits heath care providers from sending surprise bills to patients when the patient had no true choice of providers as when a patient seeks care from an in-network hospital but… Full Story

Surprise Billing Legislation May Go Federal

The fight against surprise medical billing may get a leg up from the federal government if President Trump gets his way. Last week, the President and other White House officials voiced support for a congressional ban on surprise medical bills by barring hospital contracts with physicians who aren’t in the same network as the rest of the hospital, Modern Healthcare reports. The fight for more patient protection from surprise or balance billing has been raging in Texas for years, as subsequent bills have added mediation to the process, with the latest version of a bill including an arbitration piece that… Full Story

Despite Insurer Pushback, Bill to Protect Poor and Disabled Texans Clears Committee

After an extensive investigation into the managed care of poor and disabled Texans who use Medicaid, a bill to help fight against healthcare companies who are profiting from the system cleared the Texas House of Representatives Human Services committee last week, reports the Dallas Morning News. Houston Republican Rep. Sarah Davis, authored the 60-page bill and told DMN she hopes to “assure that Texas’ most vulnerable populations are receiving the health care that taxpayers are paying for.” The DMN investigation revealed how government officials in charge of administering medicaid and serving patients often ended up working for the healthcare companies that… Full Story

Bill to Allow Physicians to Distribute Medicine at the Office Takes a Hit

House Bill 1622, which would have let physicians distribute certain common prescribed medicines, has died in the public health committee in the Texas House of Representatives. Committee chair and Houston Democrat Senfronia Thompson has not allowed the bill to come before the committee, meaning there will not be public debate. The bill was introduced by Rep. Tom Oilverson from Houston, and advocates say it would get rid of the hurdle of finding a pharmacy and improve medication adherence. Nationwide, 46 states have passed legislation allowing physicians to distribute certain medications at their office, urgent care clinics, or worksite clinics. Supporters… Full Story

Update: Will Physicians Soon be Allowed to Dispense Drugs in Texas?

Texas is just one of four states nationwide where physicians are not able to dispense medicine onsite, but a number of organizations are hoping to change that during 2019’s legislative session. A statewide coalition of employers and healthcare providers called the Texas Employers for Affordable Medications (TEAM Rx) is working to change the law and give patients the option of filling certain common prescriptions right at their doctor’s office rather than their local pharmacy. The DFW Business Group on Health, Texas Business Group on Health, Texas Academy of Family Physicians, Fort Bend County, and others make up the coalition. A… Full Story

Local Lawmaker Introduces ‘Landmark Legislation’ to Fight Surprise Medical Billing in Texas

North Texas State Senator Kelly Hancock authored Senate Bill 1264 to address surprise billing in the state, prohibiting out-of-network providers from sending surprise bills when patients don’t have a real choice of provider. The bill will make patients responsible for applicable co-pays, coinsurance, and deductibles with no additional charges after mediation between the provider and health plan. Data from the Texas Association of Health Plans says that 30 percent of all ER physician services are out of network, even though 65 percent of those services occur at hospitals that are in network. Freestanding emergency rooms account for 83 percent of all out-of-network… Full Story

Bipartisan Texas Bills Go After “Unconscionable” Freestanding ERs

A bipartisan group of State Senators and Representatives, including local Democratic State Senator Nathan Johnson, filed legislation to allow the Texas Attorney General to address the unreasonable prices charged by freestanding emergency rooms. Johnson joined author Senator Kirk Watson, D-Austin and Representative Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont in filing legislation similar to an existing law that allows the AG to stop price-gouging for goods and services during natural emergencies and disasters. Freestanding ERs in the state represent 83 percent of all out-of-network emergency room services and end up costing Texans more than $3 billion a year in avoidable health care costs, which continues… Full Story

North Texas Legislator’s Bill to Fight Maternal Mortality By Extending Care

Representative Michelle Beckley of Carrollton is already making waves in Texas’ 2019 legislative section. The freshmen legislator defeated incumbent Republican Ron Simmons in November, and is now a joint author on a bill to extend care to mothers who received services through Medicaid. Co-authored with Houston-area representative Jessica Farrar, House Bill 241 would provide medical assistance for at least 12 months to a small group of women who were eligible for the Medicaid services prior to pregnancy. As it stands today, these post-partum women only receive the aid for 60 days after pregnancy. “Last year, Texas’s overall maternal mortality rate… Full Story