1-1                                   AN ACT
 1-2     relating to creating the rural physician relief program and to
 1-3     licensing of physicians intending to practice in rural areas or
 1-4     other underserved or shortage areas.
 1-6           SECTION 1.  Chapter 106, Health and Safety Code, is amended
 1-7     by adding Subchapter H to read as follows:
 1-9           Sec. 106.251.  DEFINITIONS.  In this subchapter:
1-10                 (1)  "Physician" means a person licensed to practice
1-11     medicine in this state under Subtitle B, Title 3, Occupations Code.
1-12                 (2)  "Relief services" means:
1-13                       (A)  the temporary coverage of a physician's
1-14     practice by another physician for a predetermined time during the
1-15     physician's absence and before the physician's return; or
1-16                       (B)  the intended practice of medicine by a
1-17     person who is applying for a license as a physician in this state
1-18     and who promises to practice medicine in a rural area as defined by
1-19     Subdivision (3)(A).
1-20                 (3)  "Rural" means:
1-21                       (A)  a community located in a county with a
1-22     population not greater than 50,000; or
1-23                       (B)  an area designated under state or federal
1-24     law as:
1-25                             (i)  a health professional shortage area;
 2-1     or
 2-2                             (ii)  a medically underserved area; or
 2-3                       (C)  a medically underserved community designated
 2-4     by the center.
 2-5           Sec. 106.252.  RURAL PHYSICIAN RELIEF PROGRAM.  (a)  The
 2-6     center shall create a program to provide affordable relief services
 2-7     to rural physicians practicing in the fields of general family
 2-8     medicine, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics to
 2-9     facilitate the ability of those physicians to take time away from
2-10     their practice.
2-11           (b)  As part of the program under this subchapter, the center
2-12     shall provide the statement required by Section 155.056(c),
2-13     Occupations Code, for an applicant for a license as a physician who
2-14     promises to provide relief services as described by Section
2-15     106.251(2)(B).
2-16           Sec. 106.253.  FEES.  (a)  The center shall charge a fee for
2-17     rural physicians to participate in the program.
2-18           (b)  The fees collected under this section shall be deposited
2-19     in a special account in the general revenue fund that may be
2-20     appropriated only to the center for administration of this
2-21     subchapter.
2-22           Sec. 106.254.  FUNDING.  The center may solicit and accept
2-23     gifts, grants, donations, and contributions to support the program.
2-24           Sec. 106.255.  RELIEF PHYSICIAN'S EXPENSES.  The center shall
2-25     pay a physician providing relief under the program using fees
2-26     collected by the center.
 3-2     (a)  The center shall assign physicians to provide relief to a
 3-3     rural area in accordance with the following priorities:
 3-4                 (1)  solo practitioners;
 3-5                 (2)  counties that have fewer than seven residents per
 3-6     square mile;
 3-7                 (3)  counties that have been designated under federal
 3-8     law as a health professional shortage area;
 3-9                 (4)  counties that do not have a hospital; and
3-10                 (5)  counties that have a hospital but do not have a
3-11     continuously staffed hospital emergency room.
3-12           (b)  In determining where to assign relief physicians, the
3-13     center shall consider the number of physicians in the area
3-14     available to provide relief services and the distance in that area
3-15     to the nearest physician that practices in the same specialty.
3-16           (c)  At the request of the center, residency program
3-17     directors may assist the center in coordinating the assignment of
3-18     relief physicians.
3-19           Sec. 106.257.  RELIEF PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT.  The center
3-20     shall actively recruit physicians to participate in the program as
3-21     relief physicians.  The center shall concentrate on recruiting
3-22     physicians involved in an accredited residency program in general
3-23     pediatrics, general internal medicine, and general family medicine,
3-24     physicians registered on the center's locum tenens registry,
3-25     physicians employed at a medical school, and physicians working for
3-26     private locum tenens groups.
 4-1           Sec. 106.258.  APPLICATION.  This subchapter does not
 4-2     authorize the unlicensed practice of medicine.
 4-3           SECTION 2.  Section 155.056, Occupations Code, is amended by
 4-4     adding Subsection (c) to read as follows:
 4-5           (c)  Notwithstanding Subsections (a) and (b), an applicant is
 4-6     considered to have satisfied the requirements of this section if
 4-7     the applicant:
 4-8                 (1)  passed all but one part of an examination approved
 4-9     by the board within three attempts and passed the remaining part of
4-10     the examination within six attempts;
4-11                 (2)  is specialty board certified by a specialty board
4-12     that:
4-13                       (A)  is a member of the American Board of Medical
4-14     Specialties; or
4-15                       (B)  is approved by the American Osteopathic
4-16     Association;
4-17                 (3)  is a pharmacist licensed by the Texas State Board
4-18     of Pharmacy;
4-19                 (4)  submits an affidavit with the application that the
4-20     applicant intends to provide relief services, as described by
4-21     Section 106.251(2)(B), Health and Safety Code;
4-22                 (5)  provides a statement from the Center for Rural
4-23     Health Initiatives that the services the applicant promises to
4-24     provide qualify as relief services under Section 106.251, Health
4-25     and Safety Code; and
4-26                 (6)  has completed, in this state, at least three years
                                                                S.B. No. 516
    5-1     of postgraduate medical training approved by the board.
    5-2           SECTION 3.  Subchapter B, Chapter 155, Occupations Code, is
    5-3     amended by adding Section 155.059 to read as follows:
    5-4           Sec. 155.059.  LICENSE TO PRACTICE IN RURAL AREAS.  The board
    5-5     may issue a license to practice medicine to an applicant who
    5-6     qualifies for a license under Section 155.056(c).  A person
    5-7     licensed under this section may only practice medicine in a rural
    5-8     area as defined by Section 106.251(3)(A), Health and Safety Code.
    5-9           SECTION 4.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2001.
            _______________________________     _______________________________
                President of the Senate              Speaker of the House
                  I hereby certify that S.B. No. 516 passed the Senate on
            February 26, 2001, by a viva-voce vote; May 22, 2001, Senate
            refused to concur in House amendments and requested appointment of
            Conference Committee; May 24, 2001, House granted request of the
            Senate; May 26, 2001, Senate adopted Conference Committee Report by
            a viva-voce vote.
                                                    Secretary of the Senate
                  I hereby certify that S.B. No. 516 passed the House, with
            amendments, on May 17, 2001, by a non-record vote; May 24, 2001,
            House granted request of the Senate for appointment of Conference
            Committee; May 26, 2001, House adopted Conference Committee Report
            by a non-record vote.
                                                    Chief Clerk of the House