New Texas Laws Combat Physician Shortage, Streamline Patient Care

Texas has recently enacted several laws aimed at reducing the physician shortage and improving the efficiency of care in the state, according to the Texas Medical Association.

The legislature restored funding cut from graduate medical education in 2011 and increased the funding available for a physician loan repayment program. New laws also prevent foreign medical schools from buying clinical clerkship slots in the state's hospitals.

Additionally, patients will now be allowed to check in at physicians' offices by swiping their drivers' licenses, reducing time spent filling out paperwork. Two new laws seek to develop a universal prior-authorization form for prescription drugs, medical procedures and healthcare services. Physician renewal of the sate controlled substance registration will also be easier and lead to fewer delays.

"Legislators really delivered for Texas patients and physicians this year. However, Texas is a big state with big healthcare needs. There is still more work ahead," said Stephen L. Brotherton, MD, TMA's president, in a news release.

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