As Bill Filing Deadline Looms, Hearings Take Off
The end is not near, but we’re hitting a significant milestone this week as the 88th legislative session churns forward: Bill filing deadline is this Friday, March 10. There will be a scramble this week to file hundreds of last-minute bills – which THA will be closely watching and analyzing. And this week, committee hearings on specific bills will be in full swing.
To date, THA is monitoring nearly 1,000 hospital-related bills, of the more than 5,000 that have been filed since Nov. 14.
Last week, much of THA’s work involved back-and-forth meetings at the Capitol on dozens of bills – some good, some bad – as well as a push to blanket lawmakers and staffers with education and perspectives on behalf of the hospital industry. THA’s Jennifer Banda, J.D. testified Tuesday before the Texas House Committee on Appropriations, voicing support for several critical state budget priorities including Medicaid coverage, rural hospital funding and behavioral health coverage.
Testimony on Deck This Week
- Monday: THA’s Cesar Lopez, J.D., will testify before the Texas House Public Health Committee in support of House Bill 49, related to hospital investigation transparency; see THA’s white paper for key details. THA’s Heather De La Garza also will testify Monday in the same committee, in support of House Bill 112 relating to workplace violence prevention in health facilities.
- Wednesday: THA President/CEO John Hawkins will testify before the Texas House County Affairs Committee, providing an overview of THA priorities, hospital financial strain and the details behind how hospitals are paid. THA will also testify in support of House Bill 186, which ensures access to Orders of Protective Custody for behavioral health patients, before the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence.
Notable Bills With Movement
- Itemized Receipts. THA continues to meet with lawmakers on the issue of itemized receipts (House Bill 1973 and Senate Bill 490) and works to find a middle ground for patients and hospitals. Also last week, a KXAN story posted about the issue with extensive lawmaker comments as well as perspective from THA.
- Postpartum Coverage. THA continues to push for the advancement of House Bill 12, which ensure 12 months of postpartum Medicaid coverage for new mothers. This is a major priority for House Speaker, Gov. Abbott and THA.
- Facility Fees. THA is working to prevent two bills from advancing related to facility fees – Senate Bill 1275 and House Bill 1692. THA staff continue to meet with lawmakers behind the scenes to prevent the advancement of these bills, and THA members should be on the lookout for an emailed member survey so THA staff can better communicate the impact of the proposed prohibition.
- Advance Directives. The THA team has long been working on adjustments to the Texas Advance Directives Act, and this week House Bill 3162 was filed. Stakeholder groups, including THA, have been meeting since August of 2022 and will meet again next week to coordinate on details related to support or suggested edits.
- Electronic Emergency Detention Orders. THA is encouraged by the recent filing of Senate Bill 1433 and House Bill 2507, which would streamline applications for Emergency Detention Orders by ensuring physicians have the ability to apply for warrants electronically statewide. This will help address long-standing behavioral health access issues of concern to THA members.
- Hospital at Home. With a new white paper on the topic, THA continues to push for support for recently filed legislation – Senate Bill 1156 and House Bill 1890 – in support of solidifying the hospital-at-home program in Texas.
- Prudent Layperson. In other good news, pushing for a prudent layperson standard, THA is in full support of the recently filed Senate Bill 1139 and House Bill 1236 to ensure hospital treatment for emergency care is not denied by health plans.
- Badge Bill. THA has been voicing opposition to House Bill 2324, which would require hospitals to make sweeping changes to staff identification cards in response to physicians’ concerns about the use of certain titles. The bill also restricts advertising and the use of the term “resident” when not referring to a physician. THA believes the law’s existing identification requirements are clear and continues to meet with lawmakers to oppose this bill or find an acceptable compromise.