Health Care Law
The past Survey year was one of incremental change in the health-law arena. As usual in odd-numbered years, the most significant change in law came out of the Texas legislature, although the agencies and Texas Supreme Court made their own notable contributions, particularly with respect to telemedicine, hospital districts’ liability for indigent health care, and the use of physician extenders.
Every two years the legislature spends six months considering hundreds upon hundreds of bills dealing with public health, health care providers of every type, patient issues, and taxation and liability rules that shape the delivery of health care services within the state of Texas. As this past Survey year illustrates, we are increasingly challenged to develop statutory responses to keep up with technological, medical, and political developments. Telemedicine, to take but one example from this past year, is a fast-moving field in which business practices change faster than many full-time legislatures can respond. With the passage of a sweeping federal health care reform law in 2010, and the promulgation of well over 1,000 implementing regulations over the next four years, the need for speed as well as thoughtful deliberation will pose major challenges to state law-makers.