Hospital Physician Executives are Tackling Texas Health Care Challenges

Experts at THA’s Hospital Physician Executives meeting talk new legislation, regulatory challenges and succeeding at the Capitol in 2025.


The Texas Hospital Association provided an open forum for physician executives to talk about the hottest topics in the health care space, while also learning up-to-date legal and political news impacting patient care, last Friday at the Hospital Physician Executives (HPE) Meeting, held at THA headquarters in Austin.

THA’s HPE group is a gathering of health care physician leadership who discuss current issues in health care delivery, legislative updates and hospital regulations. Experts on Texas health care appeared as guests to deliver up-to-date information on some of those pressing issues. The first speaker of the day was the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Jennifer Shuford, MD, MPH, who provided an update on revisions to proposed state trauma rules that aim to move the Texas trauma standards closer in line with national standards. Dr. Shuford shared information about ongoing public health concerns, including congenital syphilis and the recent detection of the first Texas case of a novel avian flu strain. She also provided an overview of DSHS’ Healthy Mothers and Babies Data Book, which contains information on maternal health, public health issues and care disparities.

Members of THA's Hospital Physician Executives group met in April 2024 to talk about the hottest topics in the health care space

Following Dr. Shuford, health law expert Missy Atwood, J.D., of Germer PLLC, updated the group on topics including medical consent hierarchy and state law surrounding the process relating to advance directives and end-of-life decision-making. Atwood also updated the group on existing abortion law in Texas and a recent legal petition to the Texas Medical Board requesting clarifying guidance through rulemaking. During these sessions, members had the opportunity to ask pertinent questions and engage in discussion.

Also during the meeting, THA’s advocacy team filled in HPE members about the progress of legislation from last year’s session of the Texas Legislature and how THA is preparing for the next session in 2025. Erika Ramirez, senior director of health policy, gave an in-depth review of one of THA’s biggest victories during the 88th legislative session, House Bill 12 – the bill that extended maternal Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum. THA’s policy team is closely following the program through its implementation, which began on March 1. Outreach materials hospitals and clinicians can share with patients are available at the bottom of Texas Health and Human Services’ Women and Children webpage.

THA’s senior vice president of advocacy and public policy, Jennifer Banda, J.D., laid out THA’s roadmap for success in 2025. She noted that hospital leaders must prepare for 2025 by meeting with legislators to explain how their facilities impact their communities, stating “now is the time to have those conversations and change those narratives” surrounding anti-hospital sentiment.

Jennifer Banda, J.D., THA’s senior vice president of advocacy and public policy

HPE members shared insights with each other during the meeting as well, engaging in discussions on industry issues of note among their peers. Among the topics of discussion were concerns over strict American College of Surgeons standards for trauma centers, which drive up operating costs and may cause some facilities’ trauma designations to change. HPE members also raised concerns over the current challenges with the conflicting state statutes governing Texas’ near-total ban on abortion, which threatens emergency, maternal-fetal medicine and obstetrics recruitment due to many health professionals preferring not to work under Texas’ ban.

HPE plans to meet again later this year, and THA members are encouraged to join in and add their voices to the chorus – not only to create productive discussion among Texas hospital peers, but also to inform THA on what hospitals are most concerned about. That input will help drive THA’s advocacy success both in the present and during the next legislative session.

“We are most effective when we are representing you, in both regulatory and legislative issues,” Banda said.

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