Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Fax (512) 463-0923

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 2, 2003
Contact: Dave Nelson
(512) 463-0112

Session Wrap: a Guide for the Media

Note: In anticipation of end-of-session articles and the scheduling difficulties for both reporters and Senators, following is an overview of the accomplishments and perspectives of State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, for the 78th Session of the Texas Legislature, which adjourned June 2nd.

On the session:
"This was definitely a budget session, but many other important issues were addressed as well. When the dust settles, people are going to see that this Legislature passed meaningful reforms that are going to benefit citizens for years to come."

On the budget:
"This Legislature was put through a very painful crash course in fiscal responsibility. We were forced to make difficult choices and we need to let this serve as a painful reminder that now and in the future we need to justify every penny that we spend. Times are not always as prosperous as they seem. There will be better days ahead, and there will be bad days, too. This budget meets our goal of providing essential services without increasing taxes."

High point:
"Chairing the Senate Finance Workgroup on Health & Human Services Funding, I have never been more proud of the way the Senate came together to help ensure that the most vulnerable of our citizens - the poor, the sick, the elderly - would not be left behind. We took an expedition into caverns of our health & human services agencies and mined every precious piece of savings that we could find. We were able to preserve those important services within the budget constraints." Low point: "There were a few. I would have liked to have been able to address school finance, and that will happen in a special session. I wish the House had approved my special taxing district reform legislation that we spent two years studying over the interim."

On Medical Liability Reform:
"I said at the beginning of the session that we cannot go home without passing meaningful reforms to ensure that Texas patients have access to safe, quality health care. The reforms that we passed this session are going to stabilize medial liability insurance rates and reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits that cost our health care providers a combined $1 million in legal fees. The reforms we passed allow claimants to recover an unlimited amount of damages for medical costs, lost wages and other forms of objective claims. But by capping the amount of subjective claims - such as mental anguish and pain and suffering - we can stop the exodus of health care providers and preserve patient access to medical care in Texas." Senator Nelson's liability reforms included SB 339, SB 12 (folded into HB 4), and HJR 3.

On Passing SB 418 relating to Prompt Payment of Health Care Providers:
"This legislation will reduce the fierce billing disputes between health care providers and insurance companies -- administrative hassles that are bogging down our health care system. It is a universal standard of business that each party should live up to the contracts under which they are doing business. This bill simply enforces that standard."

On Chairing the Sunset Advisory Commission:
"This was an especially important review cycle because there was so much focus on the very goal of the Sunset process - to ensure that our state agencies and commissions are working as efficiently as possible. Our recommendations led to significant budget savings and at the same time reformed several key agencies to better serve the people."

On Chairing the Senate Health & Human Services Committee:
"Everything we do in life is dependent on our health, and our mission this session was to ensure that we are doing everything within our means to help Texans have access to safe, quality, affordable health care. It was not easy in a session while we were scaling back, but we accomplished several reforms that are going to help in the areas of preventative care, organ donation and reduction of administrative burdens that are bogging down the delivery aspects of our health care system."

Bills Offered by Senator Nelson that have been sent to the Governor's Desk:

For more information or to review archived press releases that were issued during the session, visit Senator Nelson's home page at www.nelson.senate.state.tx.us

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