By Madla                                               S.B. No. 516
         77R2495 MCK-D                           
                                A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 1-1                                   AN ACT
 1-2     relating to creating the rural physician relief program.
 1-4           SECTION 1. Chapter 106, Health and Safety Code, is amended by
 1-5     adding Subchapter H to read as follows:
 1-7           Sec. 106.251.  DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:
 1-8                 (1)  "Physician" means a person licensed to practice
 1-9     medicine in this state under Subtitle B, Title 3, Occupations Code.
1-10                 (2)  "Relief services" means the temporary coverage of
1-11     a physician's practice by another physician for a predetermined
1-12     time during the physician's absence and before the physician's
1-13     return.
1-14                 (3)  "Rural" means:
1-15                       (A)  a community located in a county with a
1-16     population not greater than 50,000; or
1-17                       (B)  an area designated under state or federal
1-18     law as:
1-19                             (i)  a health professional shortage area;
1-20     or
1-21                             (ii)  a medically underserved area; or
1-22                       (C)  a medically underserved community designated
1-23     by the center.
1-24           Sec. 106.252.  RURAL PHYSICIAN RELIEF PROGRAM. The center
 2-1     shall create a program to provide affordable relief services to
 2-2     rural physicians practicing in the fields of general family
 2-3     medicine, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics to
 2-4     facilitate the ability of those physicians to take time away from
 2-5     their practice.
 2-6           Sec. 106.253.  FEES. (a)  The center shall charge a fee for
 2-7     rural physicians to participate in the program.
 2-8           (b)  The fees collected under this section shall be deposited
 2-9     in a special account in the general revenue fund that may be
2-10     appropriated only to the center for administration of this
2-11     subchapter.
2-12           Sec. 106.254.  FUNDING. The center may solicit and accept
2-13     gifts, grants, donations, and contributions to support the program.
2-14           Sec. 106.255.  RELIEF PHYSICIAN'S EXPENSES. The center shall
2-15     pay a physician providing relief under the program using fees
2-16     collected by the center.
2-17           Sec. 106.256.  PRIORITY ASSIGNMENT OF RELIEF PHYSICIANS. (a)
2-18     The center shall assign physicians to provide relief to a rural
2-19     area in accordance with the following priorities:
2-20                 (1)  solo practitioners;
2-21                 (2)  counties that have fewer than seven residents per
2-22     square mile;
2-23                 (3)  counties that have been designated under federal
2-24     law as a health professional shortage area;
2-25                 (4)  counties that do not have a hospital; and
2-26                 (5)  counties that have a hospital but do not have a
2-27     continuously staffed hospital emergency room.
 3-1           (b)  In determining where to assign relief physicians, the
 3-2     center shall consider the number of physicians in the area
 3-3     available to provide relief services and the distance in that area
 3-4     to the nearest physician that practices in the same specialty.
 3-5           (c)  At the request of the center, residency program
 3-6     directors may assist the center in coordinating the assignment of
 3-7     relief physicians.
 3-8           Sec. 106.257.  RELIEF PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT. The center shall
 3-9     actively recruit physicians to participate in the program as relief
3-10     physicians.  The center shall concentrate on recruiting physicians
3-11     involved in an accredited residency program in general pediatrics,
3-12     general internal medicine, and general family medicine, physicians
3-13     registered on the center's locum tenens registry, physicians
3-14     employed at a medical school, and physicians working for private
3-15     locum tenens groups.
3-16           Sec. 106.258.  ADVISORY COMMITTEE. (a)  The rural physician
3-17     relief advisory committee is composed of the following members
3-18     appointed by the center's executive committee:
3-19                 (1)  a physician who practices in the area of general
3-20     family medicine in a rural county;
3-21                 (2)  a physician who practices in the area of general
3-22     internal medicine in a rural county;
3-23                 (3)  a physician who practices in the area of general
3-24     pediatrics in a rural county;
3-25                 (4)  a representative from an accredited Texas medical
3-26     school;
3-27                 (5)  a program director from an accredited primary care
 4-1     residency program;
 4-2                 (6)  a representative from the Texas Higher Education
 4-3     Coordinating Board; and
 4-4                 (7)  a representative from the Texas State Board of
 4-5     Medical Examiners.
 4-6           (b)  The advisory committee shall assist the center in
 4-7     administering the program.
 4-8           SECTION 2.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2001.