TMA Legislative Hotline

Hotline is a daily electronic newsletter exclusively for TMA members that reports the legislature's latest actions on bills affecting Texas medicine.

Legislative Top 10: Improving Mental Health Care Squeaks into Law

(Public Health) Permanent link

A bill to improve the effectiveness of and access to behavioral health care in Texas seemed destined to pass the Texas Legislature as the 2019 session was winding down last month. But late-stage drama nearly upended the effort. 

Senate Bill 10 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) would have created the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium. It just needed final approval by the House of Representatives and validation by Gov. Greg Abbott, who previously deemed the issue an emergency priority. However, a point of order raised in the session’s final week killed the bill. 

A maneuver to tack the bill onto another that ultimately passed – Senate Bill 11 – saved it, Texas Medical Association Vice President of Advocacy Darren Whitehurst says. TMA backed SB 10, which will provide community-level health treatment programs, and mental health research. TMA also backed SB 11, which addresses school safety. 

As TMA previously reported, SB 10 was designed to identify children with mental-health needs and direct them to appropriate, timely treatment. The bill was filed partly in response to last year’s Santa Fe High School shooting. 

The governor signed SB 11 (with SB 10’s language included) into law Thursday. 

Watch this and more in today’s TMA Legislative News Hotline video, the sixth in a “top 10” legislative summary series.