Dear TCEP Member,
It is a cliché in many respects to say that an individual can make a difference in government. It would be so rare that one vote would really make a difference or that one person could change the course of legislation. We have a unique opportunity in Texas as Emergency physicians to actually make a difference for several reasons.
First of all, the legislators do respect physicians and regard our time as valuable. And emergency physicians are generally the most respected of all physicians, primarily because we are always available to treat every single one of the legislator’s constituents, no matter whether they can pay or not.
Second, we work closely with the Texas Medical Association, which has a lot of clout in Austin. Dr. Arlo Weltge has held a unique position as a consultant to the TMA Council of Legislation for many years now, and several emergency physicians, including Dr. Weltge, have leadership positions with the TMA’s political action committee.
Thirdly, our own lobbyist, Mignon McGarry is one of the most respected and effective lobbyists in Austin.
Fourth, we have several physicians in the Texas House and Senate, but for the first time ever, there is now an emergency physician in the Texas Senate. Dr. Donna Campbell practices emergency medicine, and is the state senator for part of the San Antonio area.
Fifth, emergency physicians have the stories to tell. We can relate more effectively with our legislators by telling them about our patients, particularly if a patient is a constituent, or if the hospital is in the legislator’s district.
Texas emergency physicians benefited greatly from the tort reforms of 2003. However, from now on we run the risk that with each new session, plaintiff attorneys will try to change our tort law, especially the part that is not included in the constitutional amendment. That is the part where the plaintiff has to prove willful and wanton neglect, instead of the standard neglect, in order to prove malpractice in an emergency patient. We will continually have to be vigilant and fight to keep our tort reform, which is now the law for Texan physicians.
That’s why I am encouraging you to support the Texas College of Emergency Physicians Political Action Committee of Texas) to help the Texas Chapter make a difference for you and all emergency physicians. If you have any suggestions or comments, please contact me at or our Executive Director, Jim Coles at .
Diana Fite, MD, FACEP
Chair Governmental Affairs