Capitol Update: Session ends with passage
of omnibus health reform law, budget cuts
Plus, watch the final installment of Capitol Report video webcast
It took the full 140-day regular session and an extra 30-day special session, but the 82nd Texas Legislative Session is over. The task of crafting the state budget dominated the regular session, as lawmakers confronted an estimated shortfall as high as $27 billion dollars. The final budget for the next two years spends $172.3 billion in state and federal funds, about $15 billion less than in the current biennium.
The house of medicine sustained some wins and losses, all of which are detailed in the summer 2011 issue of Texas Family Physician. Read the cover story, “Good News, Bad News: TAFP’s recap of the 82nd Texas Lege,” for the full details on cuts to health and human services and graduate medical education, as well as successes in public health, scope of practice, and IMG physician licensure. The online edition is available now, and the printed copy will reach members’ mailboxes next week.
One top issue TAFP has followed all session were efforts to reform the state’s health care system into one based on quality and efficiency. While the two major bills—Senate bills 7 and 8—did not pass the regular session, they were passed with other reform bills during the special session as one omnibus health reform bill.
TAFP CEO Tom Banning wrote about the reform law in an opinion-editorial article published in the Austin American-Statesman and the Houston Chronicle. He praised the use of innovative, market-based ideas to encourage better coordination of care in hopes of increasing quality and decreasing costs. However, he said that severely slashing funding to the programs that produce the future primary care physician workforce may hurt the reforms’ chances of success.
“To expect cost savings from a more efficient, primary-care-based system while undermining the production of the state’s primary care workforce defies logic,” Banning wrote in the op-ed. “The lights are on, but nobody is in the medical home.”
Watch the final installment of TAFP’s Capitol Report news webcast in the player box above or on our Vimeo channel, www.vimeo.com/channels/txfamilydocs. Also read the legislative recap in the summer issue of Texas Family Physician at www.tafp.org/news/TFP.
Thank you to all of our physician advocates for taking time to volunteer as Physicians of the Day, reach out to your legislators, read our legislative news coverage, and educate your peers and colleagues on the top issues facing family medicine. We’ll continue working hard in the interim and going into the 83rd session to speak on behalf of the specialty, your patients, and your practices.