April 6, 2021 (Austin, Texas) –Texas physician leaders from across the state will testify today before the Texas House Committee on the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence to oppose House Bill 1617. The testimony follows that of more than 40 physicians and doctors of chiropractic medicine last week before the Senate Committee on State Affairs opposing the companion bill, Senate Bill 207.
Testimony will focus on the negative impacts for health care professionals and for any Texan needing the care and expertise of a neurologist, surgeon, orthopedist, anesthesiologist, or other highly skilled medical specialist for medical treatment.
“Following the devastating COVID-19 pandemic during which health care professionals were heralded as heroes, it is unbelievable that our elected lawmakers would now turn around and consider anti-physician legislation,” said Dallas-based Christopher Chun, M.D., anesthesiologist and pain management specialist. “This bill forces us to choose between abusive legal discovery and baseless challenges to our medical expertise and accepting payment amounts that do not come close to covering the cost of medical care.”
House Bill 1617 will require physicians to accept payment for care of patients in personal injury cases that is tied to below-cost workers’ compensation reimbursement rates in order to avoid abusive discovery of private contracts and information and being subject to challenges to their medical judgment and charges by anyone, regardless of their background, education and training, or expertise.
Hospitals have the option of accepting payment amounts based on actual charges, not artificially low government rates, to avoid discovery and insurance company challenges.
“By providing a different deal for hospitals, lawmakers are tacitly admitting the ‘choice’ for physicians is unfair and without merit,” said San Antonio-based Raul Martinez, M.D., anesthesiologist and pain management specialist. “Pushing this bill through the Legislature is a slap in the face to the hardworking, independent physicians of Texas who put their lives on the line every single day of the pandemic to keep delivering care. If hospitals can be protected from these abusive practices, so should the medical professionals who actually deliver the care.”