April 16, 2021

What's Moving in the Texas Legislature?
A Look at the Bills That Are on Their Way to Becoming Law

With a month and a half to go in the Texas Legislature, bills are starting to be voted out of the two legislative chambers in Austin, and it's becoming a little clearer as to which bills may end up crossing the finish line when the Texas Legislature wraps up on Memorial Day.

To get really specific, 44 days remain in the Texas Legislature. And we're now down to 25 days for the last House calendar to consider House bills and 36 days to the last House Calendar printed with Senate bills.

Keep in mind that political science is a "soft science," and it can be challenging to guess what the final outcome will be for many bills. But the following is TOA’s look at the musculoskeletal-related bills that appear to be meeting the necessary deadlines to make it to the governor's desk for his final consideration. Keep in mind that anything can happen: Some of these bills will end up getting killed while others will be amended to other bills.

Additional bills are currently on our waiting list, and we'll watch to see if they meet certain benchmarks over the next two weeks before we can post with confidence that they have a good chance at final passage. TOA will re-visit this list in two weeks.

Many Musculoskeletal-Related Bills Aren't Included on This Initial List
Click here to view TOA's bill tracker, and you will notice over 150 bills that would affect musculoskeletal policy. It's clear that many of these bills won't have a chance to become law. In other cases, some of these bills need to experience more movement over the next two weeks before they can be added to this list of bills that are on their way to the governor. (TOA will provide another update like this in two weeks.)

PPP Loan Forgiveness & the State's Franchise Tax
SB 372 and HB 1195 would ensure that an entity's PPP loan is not subject to the state's franchise tax. Both bills are moving in their respective chambers.

A Delay of the Texas Department of Insurance's Sunset Review
Legislation is moving in both the House and Senate - HB 1860 and SB 713 - that would delay TDI's sunset review date from 2023 to 2025. The purpose is to move up the Public Utility Commission's sunset review from 2025 to 2025.

The Sunset Commission's review of a department or agency is significant because it allows the Legislature to open up the statute for that entity and to make any legislative changes that it wishes. In addition, the TDI sunset review also includes Workers' Comp.

Medical Payments for Personal Injury Cases
SB 207 and HB 1617 would amend the state's law related to medical payments for personal injury cases by waiving discovery if the provider does not charge more than 150 percent of Texas Workers' Comp for these cases. (The House's committee substitute contains that provision, and the Senate sponsor is expected to make that amendment on the Senate floor.)

The bills are moving in each chamber.

Medical Billing Tax
HB 1445, which would eliminate the state's tax on outsourced medical billing, was one of the first bills to pass out of the House. It already received a committee hearing in the Senate earlier this week. As a result, it's on track to be one of the first bills to go to the governor.

Click here to learn more.

Price Transparency - Hospitals
Three bills that would build on the Trump administration's rule for hospital pricing transparency - HB 2487SB 1137 and SB 914 - are on their way to passage in both chambers. Click here to learn more.

Price Transparency - Prescription Drugs
HB 1033 and SB 875 would build on the 2019 Texas law requiring drug companies to defend price increases once they reach a certain threshold. The 2021 legislation would amend the 2019 by transferring the website oversight to the Texas Department of Health Services.

Both bills are moving in their chambers.

HB 4 and SB 412 would put into statute many of the telemedicine Covid-related emergency rules that were put into place to address Medicaid. Both bills are on their way to passage, and they build on the state's 2017 and 2019 telemedicine laws.

A more controversial telemedicine law, SB 992, will have a more difficult time due to the fact that it would grant telemedicine privileges to physicians who are not licensed in the state of Texas. HB 4 and SB 412 focus on the 2017 law, which calls for a physician who is licensed by the state of Texas.

Pandemic Lawsuit Relief
Legislation is moving in a quick manner that would allow defendants to dismiss lawsuits in which they are able to prove that the injury was caused by the pandemic. SB 6 made it out of the Senate and will move through the House soon.

Board-Certified Physical Therapists
HB 1363 and SB 455 would add board-certified physical therapists to the list of physical therapists who may have 15 business days of direct access. The current law allows for those physical therapists who have completed a residency or fellowship. All other physical therapists may have 10 business days of direct access.

For all direct access visits, a patient must sign a disclosure indicating that they understand that they will not receiver a medical diagnosis, the physical therapist cannot provide imaging and insurance may not pay for the visit.

Other Bills: Dozens of Them
Click here to view TOA's bill tracker, which tracks the dozens of bills that relate to orthopaedics.

Click here to view TOA's musculoskeletal primer for state lawmakers.

Click here to view TOA's 2021 e-mail updates.
Bobby Hillert | Executive Director
Texas Orthopaedic Association
[email protected] | 214.728.7672 m