Senate Health and Human Services Committee
Texas Medical Association Testimony on Senate Bill 203
March 4, 2015
The Texas Medical Association (TMA) appreciates the work of the Sunset Advisory Commission and staff as they carefully analyzed the work of the Texas Health Services Authority (THSA). Since its inception, THSA has assisted the state in navigating this new and complex health care environment of health data exchange. TMA also appreciates the work of Senator Nelson and her staff as they work to implement the recommendations of the Sunset Commission and staff.
TMA supports the sunset of the state status of this organization and its full privatization. TMA, however, is concerned with the bill provisions addressing THSA’s post-2021 private, nonprofit organization functions.
For example, SB 203 would permit THSA, in its fully private post-2021 form, to have a special role in “assisting” in the Health and Human Services Commission’s promulgation/amendment of rules concerning the privacy and security standards for the electronic sharing of protected health information applicable to covered entities.
Additionally, SB 203 contemplates THSA, in its post-2021 private, nonprofit organization form, continuing to serve as an organization authorized by the Health and Human Services Commission to certify a covered entity’s compliance with the aforementioned privacy and security standards (i.e., those standards that it “assists” in amending).
TMA is concerned that there may be unintended consequences if a state agency bestows any level of preferred status to a private, nonprofit organization for standard setting and certification. Once THSA’s status changes to a private entity, all state agencies should treat it as any other private stakeholder.
We strongly agree with Sunset members that it is important that parameters be in place to establish an exit plan to protect the state’s interest and investment.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on this important process and consideration. We look forward to working with the author and members on finding the optimal evolution of THSA’s future success.
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