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Senator Jane Nelson: District 12
Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
News Release
February 25, 1997
Contact: Chris Ward

AUSTIN - Today the Senate Economic Development Committee passed proposals by state Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, to guarantee that women have direct access to their obstetrician/gynecologists and to end "drive-through deliveries" by requiring 48-hour hospital stays for mothers and newborns. The provisions are part of a package of bills authored by State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and other members of the Senate Interim Committee on Managed Care and Consumer Protections.

"The doctor/patient bond is sacred. And for a woman, that bond is usually strongest with her obstetrician/gynecologist," Nelson said of the OB/GYN direct access provision. "OB/GYNs provide preventative care treatments and examinations which are essential to a woman's health. A gynecologist who sees a particular patient regularly can spot physical changes which may affect her reproductive health."

Nelson's bill requires that HMOs allow women to make appointments directly with their OB/GYNs rather than having to get a referral from a primary care physician.

The 48-hour stay provision requires that HMOs pay for a mother and her new baby to stay in the hospital for at least 48 hours after a normal birth or 96 hours after a Caesarean birth if the doctor and mother feel it is necessary. It would stop a disturbing trend, labeled "drive-through deliveries", of mothers and babies being released in 24 hours or less.

"We need to make absolutely sure that mothers and newborns are allowed to stay under medical supervision long enough so that complications can be detected. The decision as to how long the hospital stay should be is one for women and their doctors to make," Nelson said.

Other highlights of bills authored by Senator Nelson include:

  • More stringent confidentiality protections for patient records;
  • Including a "prudent layperson" standard in the definition of emergency care; and
  • Requiring that personnel performing utilization review procedures be licensed physicians, nurses, or physician assistants

The entire package includes a total of seven comprehensive bills: SBs 382, 383, 384, 385, 386, 389, and 585. Nelson is author of SB 384 and SB 585 and a co-author of each of the other bills. The reform package is intended to ensure accessible, quality care for Texans enrolled in managed health care plans.

The bills will now be sent to the full Senate for a vote. Other members of the Managed Care Committee are: Senators David Sibley, R-Waco (Chair); David Cain, D-Dallas; Chris Harris, R-Arlington; and Frank Madla, D-San Antonio.