A bill that was the subject of a 5½-hour hearing would sharply curtail the powers of the Texas Medical Board if it becomes law.
Backers argued that it would bring much-needed transparency and provide greater fairness to doctors whom, some say, the board is persecuting. They especially raised concerns about practitioners of alternative medicine and those who treat conditions such as autism.
Opponents, however, said the legislation would leave patients more vulnerable to bad doctors and make it difficult for patients to complain about physicians in a state where the Legislature has made it harder to sue for malpractice.
In the end, the House Public Health Committee said it would amend House Bill 3816, which also would disclose the names of some complainants to doctors and create an advisory committee to oversee the board. The committee didn’t specify what it might change.
But supporters of the bill, authored by Rep. Fred Brown, R-Bryan, said the board has abused its authority and gone after minor infractions, costing doctors thousands of dollars, time away from their practices and sleepless nights.
The bill was co-authored by various individuals and groups, including the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which is suing the board in federal court, alleging misuse of its authority. Andy Schlafly, is general counsel for the group, which claims several thousand members.
“The board should not be telling people how to practice medicine,” Schlafly said.
A provision in the bill that would prohibit the board from requiring a doctor to practice medicine in a particular manner is a big concern of the Texas Medical Association, said Dr. William Fleming, a Houston neurologist and president-elect of the association, who spoke against the bill.
The provision “severely weakens” the board’s ability to sanction doctors who prescribe illegally or perform unproven therapies, he said.
But parents and some doctors at the hearing said the board is targeting doctors willing to treat children with autism, people with Lyme disease and others who suffer from ailments that many mainstream doctors won’t touch.
In emotional testimony that had some in the audience in tears, Lamarque Polvado, a Dallas-area parent of a daughter with autism, said, “The medical board doesn’t understand how few providers are willing to risk their license (to help). … That’s the type of provider I need.”
Parents and others said they believe insurance companies are behind some anonymous complaints the board receives because they don’t want to pay doctors for care.
If you have been subjected to a TMB Inquiry Letter or TMB Disciplinary Process, then please contact the Fort Worth Texas Medical License Defense Attorney Dr. Shezad Malik. For a no obligation, free case analysis, please call 817-255-4001 or Contact Me Online.