Capitol Update: IMG licensure bill signed into law
|+||Omnibus health reform bill stalls as House and Senate try to reconcile differences|
|+||Thanks to the Physicians of the Day|
It’s official; the IMG licensure bill, H.B. 1380 by Rep. Vicki Truitt of Keller and S.B. 1022 by Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, was signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry on Friday, June 17. The law permits international medical graduates to receive a medical license after two years of residency instead of three, removing the barriers to licensure for these physicians and allowing them to start caring for patients as quickly as graduates of U.S. medical schools.
The law removes the incentive for practice-ready, Texas-trained physicians to leave the state in search of employment and it removes related credentialing delays to allow them to be paid, keeping more Texas-trained physicians in the state and thus improving Texans’ access to care.
“The hope is that it will increase the viability of Texas as a practice site,” says Rodney Young, M.D., chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the Texas Tech University Health Science Center School of Medicine in Amarillo. “The problem we’ve encountered is that the state has invested money in training folks who are in Texas and want to practice in Texas, but because of an administrative hurdle they’ve been compelled in some circumstances to leave the state and have elected not to return.”
Both the House and the Senate have passed versions of the state’s health reform legislation, an omnibus health and human services efficiencies bill that received new life in the special session of the 82nd Legislature. However, because the House version of the bill contained several amendments not included in the Senate version, the bill was sent to conference committee and may now be in jeopardy.
Conferees in the Senate were: Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, chair; Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas; Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville; Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; and Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano. Conferees in the House were: Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton; Rep. John Davis, R-Houston; Rep. Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen; Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham; and Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie.
The version passed by the House included several controversial amendments that were stripped in conference committee, according to the Dallas Morning News. That prompted House lawmakers to threaten to vote down the bill unless they are put back in. Others in the House are unhappy with the so-called “health care compact” provision that would allow state leaders to petition Congress for the ability to operate Medicare and Medicaid in Texas. It was tacked on to the health reform bill and exists as a stand-alone bill. Even if the Legislature passes the health care compact, it’s unlikely Congress would approve the action.
The health reform bill would save money in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program by expanding Medicaid managed care into South Texas. It creates incentives for doctors and hospitals to form “health care collaboratives” that provide coordinated, more efficient care, and provides necessary anti-trust protections for providers in these collaborative arrangements. The bill takes steps to improve access to after-hours medical care and reduce emergency room use for non-emergent care. The Legislative Budget Board estimates that measures in the bill could save $468 million over the next biennium.
Thanks to Larry Kravitz, M.D., of Austin for serving as Physician of the Day during the special session of the 82nd Legislature. The Physician of the Day program brings a family physician to the Capitol each day of the legislative session to provide health care to members of the Capitol community. For inquiries about remaining spots or to be put on the contact list for the 83rd Legislature in 2013, e-mail Anna Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.