So, the Texas Legislature during their only special session this summer decided to approve the TMB, Texas Medical Board, continuing operation for two years. Yes, only two years! That means that in two years the TMB staff will once again be before the legislature proving their worth – and in the meantime they will be once again spending ridiculous amounts of time gathering more data and explaining to legislators and their staffs why there needs to be a TMB! I of course am not privy to all the whys but this action once again proves to me that the Texas legislature has not clear direction on what it’s priorities need to be. The TMB is probably one of few agencies that not only funds itself but plenty more – the agency via license and registration fees generates millions of dollars and keeps maybe one third. If I was a physician in this state I think I would pull a California and demand that my associations – Texas Medical Association and the Texas Osteopathic Association get deeply behind some legislation to pour more money into the TMB so that additional staff resources could be obtained. And maybe, just maybe before any more small agencies are added to the already overloaded TMB staff TMA and TOMA might, just might oppose such an action and get the TMB back to what they are supposed to be about – the licensing and regulation of physicians!
So during the 2017 regular legislative the Texas Legislature seemed to forget that they needed to vote on the Texas Medical Board staying in existence! So, Gov Abbott called them all back to Austin for a special session – and he told them – approve the med board – but alas here we are with only 7 days left of the special session and still not legislation to keep the medical board going. So, what happens if the legislature allows the TMB to fade away?? Well, many years ago Gov Ann Richards had had it with the Dental Board and away they went – some part to the Attorney General and some part to the Dept of Health – it was a mess and a lesson should have been learned but apparently not. A couple of great articles on the subject matter are the Texas Medical Association’s Doomsday article https://www.texmed.org/Doomsday/ and The Dallas Morning News’ article on Gov Ann Richards and the Texas Dental Board https://www.dallasnews.com/news/texas-legislature/2017/06/03/ann-richards-help-gov-greg-abbott-special-session-pickle. I doubt that the special session will end with the medical board hanging – lots of lessons can be learned from Gov Richards example!