March 26, 2021

TOA Action Alert:
Surgeon Payment Bill in Austin on Monday & Wednesday
Contact Your State Representatives & Senators Today

A Texas Senate Committee (Monday, March 29) and a Texas House Committee (Wednesday, March 31) will hear concerning bills that would create burdens for surgeons and hospitals that provide care to patients who are involved in personal injury cases.

For some orthopaedic surgeons, providing care to patients involved in personal injury cases is a part of their portfolio. Some trauma surgeons may inadvertently become involved in cases in which the lawsuit eventually pays for the medical care. And for all orthopaedic surgeons, the concepts related to FAIR Health as a potential data point that have been discussed in the legislation could affect all types of commercial health insurance payments.

SB 207 and HB 1617: The Problems
Click here to read TOA's position on the latest draft of the legislation - SB 207 and HB 1617. TOA's letter is a useful background piece.

Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) and the trucking industry presented this legislation to TOA, other segments of organized medicine and the hospital industry as an attempt to address payments made to physicians and hospitals that are "harming the trucking industry."

TOA agreed to work with lawmakers to address potential "outlier compensation" for medical services. (Do cases of "outlier compensation" exist? That is a debate for another e-mail update.) TOA proposed giving judges and juries the FAIR Health database as a potential data point for judges and juries to use to determine medical payments. In return, TOA asked for the bill to eliminate unnecessary discoveries that are making it difficult for surgeons and hospitals to participate.

The latest committee substitute (click here) went in the wrong direction, and it will be considered in the committee hearings on Monday and Wednesday. Not only does the latest version not address unnecessary discoveries, but it would also "water down" the requirements of an individual submitting a counter affidavit.

State Lawmakers Need to Hear From Surgeons and Hospitals
The medical and hospital voices at next week's hearings appear to look like:

  • TOA will feature several orthopaedic surgeons who will testify against the bill and outline TOA's proposal.
  • The Texas Medical Association is slated to be "neutral" on the bill and to outline the same concerns that TOA will make.
  • The Texas Hospital Association's position is unclear at the moment, but the hospitals are likely to express their concern related to unnecessary discoveries. THA has been a helpful advocate on this issue.
  • The Texas Society of Anesthesiologists indicated that they will be testifying in support of the bill and its current version. (TSA has a position that deviates away from the rest of organized medicine and hospitals.)

If this issue concerns you, your state representatives and senators need to hear from you today. In particular, if you are represented by any of the lawmakers on the two committees, it is critical that they hear your concerns.

Your Message for Lawmakers
Your message for lawmakers is simple:

  • I am a surgeon in your district, and the medical societies provided a proposal that would give judges and juries more payment data (FAIR Health) to consider for SB 207 and HB 1617.
  • It is critical to ensure that injured patients have access to quality health care when they are injured at no fault of their own. As a result, SB 207 and HB 1617 can serve as a useful vehicle to eliminate unnecessary discoveries.
  • We hope that you will accept our proposal.

Click here to find your state representatives and senators. (This is not a federal issue; don't waste time with your Members of Congress.)

Phone calls to the Austin offices of your state lawmakers are the most effective means of communication at this point.

In particular, if your representative or senator is a member of either of the following committees in which the bills will be heard, it is critical for them to hear from you.

Senate State Affairs Committee - Monday Hearing
Tyler Area

Waco/Granbury Area

San Antonio/New Braunfels Area

Rockwall/East Texas Area

Brownsville/South Texas Area

Flower Mound Area

Fort Worth

Georgetown/Bryan Area

House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee - Wednesday Hearing
Plano/Allen Area



Dallas/Carrollton Area

Tarrant County

Galveston County

El Paso

Houston/Katy Area

Sherman Area
Bobby Hillert | Executive Director
Texas Orthopaedic Association | 214.728.7672 m