10-day Waiting Period for Medical Care Proposed by Texas Medical Board Violates Patients’ Rights and May Increase Costs

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The Texas Medical Board (TMB) has proposed a 10-day waiting period for patients seeking care from independent out-of-network physicians. It purports to address an issue caused by non-payment by insurance companies, which has been mislabeled as a problem of “surprise” out-of-network medical bills. The fact is that independent out-of-network practices are often a less expensive and higher quality option for patients than care available in increasingly narrow insurer-controlled networks.

Ahead of Board’s December meeting at which the rule may be considered for adoption, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has submitted comments asking the TMB to withdraw the proposal.

The comments state, in part:

“Forcing patients to wait at least 10 business days to receive care from an out-of-network physician is not only unacceptable but contrary to law. We urge you, in the strongest terms possible, to oppose approval of 22 TAC 165.7 until all mandatory delays impeding access to timely care are removed.  

“SB 1264,  signed into law this past June by Governor Abbott, allows patients and out-of-network physicians to agree to mutually beneficial terms for non-emergency medical care. No waiting period was enacted in this legislation and no authority to set a waiting period was given by the law to the Texas Medical Board (TMB).

“Therefore it is our view that the TMB would be acting outside of its authority by delaying the ability of Texas patients to obtain medical care from a physician with a valid Texas license.  Any interference by the board controlling the timing or other standard terms of non-emergency care, mutually agreed upon by both patient and physician, would be contrary to law.  If the board enacts such overregulation, AAPS will begin immediately exploring options for protecting the rights of Texas patients and physicians, including potential legal challenges, and means for redress through the Executive and Legislative branches of government.”

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.