Under unusual circumstances, the Texas Legislature adjourned Sine Die (Latin for "without tomorrow") on Memorial Day, May 31, 2021. The 87th Legislative Session will be most remembered as the COVID pandemic, Winter Storm URI, and Social Conservative issue-driven session. Legislators entered the Capitol in January with differing pandemic protocols for the House and Senate, COVID testing, a significant DPS security presence, and minimal public visitors to personally engage with leaders. The session ended with the Senate working 18+ hours daily and a House quorum break by many Democrats to prevent the passage of SB7, which they believe to be a voter suppression bill.
Governor Abbott has already announced that he will call at least two special sessions later this year. The first special session is expected to start early July to address legislation that Governor Abbott felt wasn't completed, and the second will be held after 2020 census data is released to complete the redistricting process and will add the determination of $16 billion in federal funds still not dispersed as an agenda item.
TAPA went into this session with five main priorities:
- Mental Health Designation (HB2093, Cortez/Oliverson)
- Authority of PAs to sign Death Certificates (HB4048, Allison)
- Authority to prescribe Schedule II Medications (HB1524, Lucio III)
- PA Practice Ownership (HB514, Beckley)
- The introduction of OTP, or Optimal Team Practice (HB4320, Beckley)
We are excited to announce that PAs had many wins this session with the passage of two of our key legislative priorities, HB4048 (Signing of Death Certificates) and HB2093 (recognition of PAs as mental health professionals). HB1524 got close to the finish line, but unfortunately, the bill never got a hearing in the Texas Senate's Health & Human Services Committee. HB514 and HB4320 were never heard by the Texas House Committee on Public Health. HB4048 went into effect immediately upon signing, June 15th, and HB2093 will go into effect September 1, 2021.
In addition to TAPA's legislative priorities, TAPA, along with many other medical Associations, publicly opposed HB1399 as well as other anti-transgender legislation. TAPA was also effective in supporting other key medical-related legislation that passed this sessi.
- HB4, relating to Telemedicine;
- SB6, Pandemic Liability Bill;
- SB827, Caps price of insulin to $50 for a 30-day supply;
- HB5, Expanding broadband services-important to rural and underserved areas for telehealth and education;
- HB18, Drug saving program for uninsured; and
- HB1935, allowing for a 30-day emergency refill of insulin and supplies.
All healthcare professionals won big this year as well.
- SB73, Provides access to local health departments and regional offices under Medicaid.
- SB1578, Allows the use of opinions by medical professionals in child abuse cases and gives parents the right to submit a report of a professional who has physically examined the child.
- HB133 covered postpartum care for women in Medicaid from 60 days to 6 months.
- HB 2058 included age-appropriate normalcy activities for children in managing conservatorship of state.
- HB2658 expanded Medicaid-12 month enrollment of children in Medicaid.
- HB2706 provided emergency services & care provided to victims of sexual assault & processes associated with preserving & analyzing evidence.
No matter what side of the political aisle you lean, it is safe to say that this legislative session was extremely friendly to PAs across Texas. TAPA would like to thank our lobbyists, Former Texas Senator Leticia Van de Putte and former Texas House Chairman Jim Keffer of AndradeVandePutte and Associates for all of their hard work this legislative session.
While TAPA was successful this year, there is still much more work to complete to implement OTP and other legislative priorities into further session. Please consider making an investment towards the TAPA PA-PAC, which supports legislative candidates who are working diligently to make Texas the best place for PAs to work.