9 May - The Texas House passed HB 1013 today by a vote of 147-0, endorsing crucial reforms necessary to make the actions of the Texas Medical Board (TMB ) transparent. This action sends a message that the TMB’s unconstitutional actions will no longer be tolerated by the Texas House.
Rep. Fred Brown, who has advocated for reform of the TMB for the past 6 years, authored HB 1013 and provided the leadership required to overcome the fierce opposition of the Texas Medical Association. Rep. Brown has been a stalwart in the struggle to ensure transparency in the actions of the TMB, that all complaints filed against physicians would be revealed and that the physicians would be allowed to know and confront their accusers.
Texas physicians have been denied basic legal due process rights by the TMB. The Sixth Amendment guarantees that those accused of crimes have the right to confront their accusers, the charges against them, the witnesses against them and the right to have witnesses in their own behalf. These fundamental rights are routinely denied physicians in the TMB’s complaint process.
The passage of HB 1013 is only the first step. The next step requires that the Senate pass this legislation and send it to Governor for his signature.
HB 1013 requires that the TMB grant physicians the same legal due process which is given to those accused of criminal activity, and to lawyers, accountants, dentists, veterinarians and politicians who are subject to complaints.
For too long the conventional medical establishment has used the confidential/anonymous complaint process to intimidate and harass doctors who offer patients natural approaches to their health problems.
Unless there is reform at the Texas Medical Board (“TMB”), confidential/anonymous complaints against physicians will continue to be made in bad faith without any accountability. Racist complaints hide behind a cloak of secrecy. The self serving complaints of competitors, insurance and pharmaceutical companies, hospitals disgruntled employees and nurses cause physicians to spend tens of thousands of dollars or more in legal fees to defend themselves. These complaints often interfere with patients’ access to care.
It’s long overdue to shine a light on this process.
Now, HB 1013 has move to the Texas Senate where it is critical that it be passed in order that Governor Perry can sign it into law.
HB 1013 would end the abusive actions of the TMB.
- Elimination of confidential and/or anonymous complaints; the accused physician shall receive a copy of the complaint; exempted are patients, their legal representatives and nurses
- No more anonymous and/or confidential complaints from pharmaceutical, insurance companies, competitors, disgruntled employees or angry ex-spouses
- Prohibition of conflict of interests by TMB members
- The TMB can use as experts only actively practicing physicians, who review the record with the name of the accused physician withheld
- If requested by the physician and at his expense, the TMB shall record the Informal Settlement Conference and maintain the recording as part of the record but may not release it to any third parties. The physician may retain a copy of the audio recording.
- The assignment of ISC panel members shall be done randomly unless there is a board member in the same or similar practice that is available to participate.
- A reasonable 30 day period for physicians to respond to complaints.
- A statute of limitations of 7 years with respect to filing complaints.
- The board shall dispose of a contested case by issuing a final order based on an administrative judge’s findings of fact and conclusions of law.
SSI applauds the decision. The full text of the bill is posted here.