HBA-MPM S.B. 516 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisS.B. 516 By: Madla Public Health 4/24/2001 Committee Report (Amended) BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE The 76th Legislature directed the Center for Rural Health Initiatives (center) to conduct a study to determine the need for a program using physicians and physician residents as temporary replacements for full-time physicians in rural areas. Survey results and data provided by the Texas Medical Association showed that 54 percent of solo practitioners have been unable to leave their practice due to the lack of physicians to care for their patients. The center concludes that rural Texas physicians have demonstrated a need for a state-supported rural physician relief program, and that such support would help preserve the rural health care infrastructure, and help improve access to care for rural Texans. Senate Bill 516 requires the center to establish a program to provide rural physicians with temporary relief from their practice. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS Senate Bill 516 amends the Health and Safety Code to require 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 these physicians to take time away from their practice. The bill requires the center to charge a fee for rural physicians to participate in the program, and requires the collected fees to be deposited in a special account in the general revenue fund that are to be used only for the administration of the program. The bill requires the center to pay a physician providing relief under the program with fees collected by the center. In support of the program, the bill authorizes the center to solicit and accept gifts, grants, donations, and contributions. S.B. 516 requires the center to prioritize relief in the following order: solo practitioners in rural areas, counties with fewer than seven residents per square mile, counties that have been designated under federal law as a health professional shortage area, counties that do not have a hospital, and counties that have a hospital without a continuously staffed hospital emergency room. When determining where to assign relief physicians, the bill requires the center to consider the number of physicians in the area available to provide relief services and the distance in that area to the nearest physician that practices in the same specialty. At the request of the center, residency program directors are authorized to assist the center in coordinating the assignment of relief physicians. S.B. 516 requires the center to actively recruit physicians to participate in the program as relief physicians, and to concentrate on recruiting physicians involved in an accredited residency program in general pediatrics, general internal medicine, and general family medicine, physicians registered on the center's locum tenens registry, physicians employed at a medical school, and physicians working for private locum tenens groups. (Locum tenens means a person who temporarily takes the place of another.) The bill sets forth the composition of the rural physician relief advisory committee that is required to assist the center in the program's administration. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001. EXPLANATION OF AMENDMENTS Committee Amendment No. 1 includes an administrator or a chief executive officer of a hospital located in a rural county among the membership of the rural physician relief advisory committee.