SRC-SEW S.B. 516 77(R)BILL ANALYSIS Senate Research CenterS.B. 516 By: Madla Intergovernmental Relations 6/20/2001 Enrolled DIGEST AND PURPOSE Currently, studies show that physicians in rural areas are unable to leave their practices because of the lack of other physicians to provide coverage. Studies also show that rural physicians work longer hours, see more patients, treat a higher percentage of indigent care patients, and receive less compensation than their urban colleagues. S.B. 516 requires the Center for Rural Health Initiatives to instigate a state-supported rural physician relief program to help rural areas retain physicians. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY This bill does not expressly grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, institution, or agency. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Chapter 106, Health and Safety Code, by adding Subchapter H, as follows: SUBCHAPTER H. RURAL PHYSICIAN RELIEF PROGRAM Sec. 106.251. DEFINITIONS. Defines "physician," "relief services," and "rural." Sec. 106.252. RURAL PHYSICIAN RELIEF PROGRAM. Requires the Center for Rural Health Initiatives (center) to create a program to provide affordable relief services to rural physicians practicing in the fields of general family medicine, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics to facilitate the ability of those physicians to take time away from their practices. Requires the center, as part of the program under this subchapter, to provide the statement required by Section 155.056(c), Occupations Code, for an applicant for a license as a physician who promises to provide relief services as described by Section 106.251(2)(B). Sec. 106.253. FEES. Requires the center to charge a fee for rural physicians to participate in the program and requires those fees to be deposited in a special account in the general revenue fund authorized to be appropriated only to the center for administration of this subchapter. Sec. 106.254. FUNDING. Authorizes the center to solicit and accept gifts, grants, donations, and contributions to support the program. Sec. 106.255. RELIEF PHYSICIAN'S EXPENSES. Requires the center to pay a physician providing relief under the program using fees collected by the center. Sec. 106.256. PRIORITY ASSIGNMENT OF RELIEF PHYSICIANS. Requires the center to assign physicians to provide relief to a rural area in accordance with certain priorities. Requires the center to consider certain factors in determining where to assign relief physicians. Authorizes residency program directors, at the request of the center, to assist the center in coordinating the assignment of relief physicians. Sec. 106.257. RELIEF PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT. Requires the center to actively recruit physicians to participate in the program as relief physicians. Requires the center to concentrate on recruiting physicians who are: involved in accredited residency programs in certain fields, registered on the center's locum tenens registry, employed at a medical school, and working for private locum tenens groups. Sec. 106.258. APPLICATION. Provides that this subchapter does not authorize the unlicensed practice of medicine. SECTION 2. Amends Section 155.056, Occupations Code, by adding Subsection (c) to provide that, notwithstanding Subsections (a) and (b), an applicant is considered to have satisfied the requirements of this section if the applicant meets certain requirements. SECTION 3. Amends Chapter 155B, Occupations Code, by adding Section 155.059, as follows: Sec. 155.059. LICENSE TO PRACTICE IN RURAL AREAS. Authorizes the board to issue a license to practice medicine to an applicant who qualifies for a license under Section 155.056(c). Authorizes a person licensed under this section to only practice medicine in a rural area as defined by Section 106.251(3)(A), Health and Safety Code. SECTION 4. Effective date: September 1, 2001.