PRESS RELEASE
From the Office of State Senator Dan Patrick

For Immediate Release
March 27, 2007

Contact: Court Koenning
(512) 463-0107 / (713) 876-4444

SEN. PATRICK HIGHLIGHTS HEALTH CARE BILLS

"As a member of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, I am pleased to advance this package of bills," Sen. Patrick

AUSTIN - Today, Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) highlighted a number of bills he introduced this session on the subject of health care. The bills, introduced over the course of the last few months, were developed through Senator Patrick's work with a number of groups and private citizens. A highlight of those bills follow:

Senate Bill 800 - Convenience Clinics - (in Health and Human Services Committee)
The newest improvement in healthcare accessibility is the growing convenience care clinic industry. These clinics are located in high-volume retail outlets and provide affordable and accessible non-emergency health care.

Convenience Care Clinics are open late and on weekends, require no appointments, and can usually see a patient within 15 minutes. In addition, the prices for services are clearly posted and transparent. Convenient care clinics are expanding rapidly throughout the nation.

One of the biggest obstacles facing the growth and viability of convenient care clinics in Texas is the state's heavy over-regulation of the various healthcare personnel. The clinics are usually staffed by nurse practitioners or physicians assistants with oversight by doctors. However, the oversight requirements under Texas law is dramatically more severe than most other states, draining the time and resources of both the clinics and the licensed physicians. This bill makes changes to the requirements placed on doctors who choose to delegate authority to nurse practitioners or physician's assistants. "If you have recently sought emergency care in Texas, you have received a lesson in patience. Waiting for treatment behind those who seek routine medical attention is placing a crippling effect on our trauma care facilities. This bill will make it easier and more economical to open Convenient Care Clinics in Texas, thus reserving our emergency care facilities for true emergencies," Senate Patrick said.

Senate Bill 1098 - Adoption Incentive Program - (in Health and Human Services Committee)
Currently, some children adopted from the state's foster care system are not eligible for health insurance assistance. This is a disincentive for foster care adoptions.

As proposed, SB 1098 implements an adoption incentive program that provides $150 per month for health care insurance to families who adopt foster care children. The program would be applicable to children who were in foster care at the time of their adoption, are ineligible for Medicaid, and are younger than 18 years of age. "There are some children who fall in the cracks in our foster care system. Upon adoption from our state system, some children are automatically eligible for health care cost coverage and some are not. This bill would ensure fairness for every child who society already neglected once," Senator Patrick remarked.

Senate Bill 1566 - Bleeding Disorders Advisory Committee - (in Health and Human Services Committee)
SB 1566 creates a Texas Bleeding Disorders Advisory Council within the Department of State Health Services charged with studying issues affecting the health and wellness of persons living with hemophilia and other bleeding or clotting disorders.

These issues will include legislative or administrative changes that affect the health and wellness of person with hemophilia; best practices for persons with hemophilia; community based information services and the coordination of public and private support networking systems for persons living with hemophilia and other bleeding or clotting disorders. "Living with hemophilia is often a complex and confusing process of discovery and treatment. Many sufferers of hemophilia are not aware they have the disease until after they experience an injury or bleeding episode. Treatment can be costly as it is not uncommon for medicine to cost $100,000 to $200,000 annually. This advisory council will bring together health care professionals and those with the disease in an effort to find solutions and best practices of treatment," Senator Patrick remarked.

Senate Bill 1567 - Abortion Alternative Bill - (in Health and Human Services Committee)
Upon passage of SB 1567, abortion clinics would provide to their potential clients a notice of the alternatives to terminating a pregnancy. Under the bill, Texas would compensate abortion clinic clients who decide to take their child to term and place their unwanted baby up for adoption rather than having an abortion. "I want Texas to be known as a state that respects life. For every unwanted pregnancy, there are numerous loving families who seek to adopt a child. If we can encourage mothers to choose life for their child instead of abortion, it will be a proud moment for her, rather than a decision she might regret for the rest of her life," Senator Patrick remarked.

The amount of compensation was derived from multiple inputs, including the typical out of pocket cost for an abortion clinic client's early stage abortion. The amount is high enough to encourage potential abortion clinic clients to rethink their decision to abort, but low enough as to not encourage unwanted pregnancies. "The $500 compensation would reward mothers who choose life over abortion for their unwanted child," Senator Patrick offered. To those who charged this legislation would encourage some women to get pregnant so they could collect the compensation, Senator Patrick said "I seriously doubt any woman would get pregnant, carry the child for nine months and give birth for the equivalent of one week's pay at McDonald's. If the truth be told these critics are worried this would actually reduce the number of abortions in Texas, a $50 million dollar industry. Unfortunately, they wouldn't support any legislation that cut into those profits" Senator Patrick concluded.

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