Texas law relaxes doctor requirements for retail clinics

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HOUSTON — A new Texas law that goes into effect next week stands to make it easier for doctors who oversee retail health clinics.

The legislation — S.B. 532, which was approved in June and becomes effective September 1 —  amends state law governing physician alternative practice sites by relaxing requirements for doctors with prescriptive authority who supervise nurse practitioners and physician assistants at in-store clinics.

For instance, the measure reduces the amount of time that a supervising doctor must practice on-site at a clinic, increases the distance that a supervising doctor’s primary practice site or residence can be from a clinic, and gives supervising doctors more latitude to delegate the execution and/or signing of prescription drug orders.

Sponsored by State Sen. Dan Patrick (R., Houston) and State Rep. Garnet Coleman (D., Houston), the law is expected to trim costs at clinics while maintaining their quality of care and integration with the medical community, according to the Convenient Care Association and the Texas Medical Association, which supported the legislation.

The associations noted that the law will increase Texans’ access to affordable health care, which is key in a state where 25% of residents are uninsured and 20% report having forgone medical care because of high costs.

"Convenient Care clinics have treated millions of patients throughout the country and hundreds of thousands of patients in Texas over the last four years. The new law governing alternative practice sites helps ensure that these clinics will continue to provide easy access to affordable health care throughout the state," Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the Convenient Care Association, said in a statement

Convenient Care Association members that operate in-store clinics in Texas include MinuteClinic, in CVS/pharmacy stores; Take Care Health Systems, in Walgreens pharmacies; RediClinic, in H.E. Butt supermarkets; and Christus Medical Group, in Wal-Mart stores.

"This new law ensures that physicians will continue to monitor convenient care clinics in order to protect patient safety, ensure positive health outcomes and make certain that patients with more serious illnesses are referred for appropriate followup care," commented Dr. William Fleming, president of the Texas Medical Association.



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