Physicians to State: Include Health Funds in Budget Plans

Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Legislative Appropriations Request — 2018-19

Comments Submitted May 18, 2016, on behalf of: 

  • Texas Medical Association
  • Texas Pediatric Society
  • Texas Academy of Family Physicians
  • Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists-District XI (Texas)  

On behalf of the above-named organizations, which together represent more than 49,000 physicians and medical students, thank you for the opportunity to provide input into the development of the legislative appropriations request (LAR) for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, and Department of Family and Protective Services.

Like you, our organizations are in the formative stages of developing legislative and budget recommendation for the 2017 legislative session. Thus, our recommendations may evolve over the next few months. But of critical importance to our members are the following priorities:  

  • Revitalizing the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program physician networks to ensure low-income Texans’ timely access to health care services 
    • Increase Medicaid physician payments to be competitive with Medicare and commercial payers.
    • Reinstate payment of the Medicare Part B copayments to the Medicare allowable for dual-eligible patients.
  • Promoting better birth outcomes by enhancing women’s access to preventive, primary, and behavioral health care
    • Enhance women’s health services to provide comprehensive preconception and interconception care, including specialty treatment of chronic physical and mental health conditions, with particular emphasis on women at high risk for delivering a low-birthweight or premature baby.
    • Regularly review and adjust payments for long-acting reversible contraceptives purchased directly by physicians or clinics to ensure women can obtain the devices during an office visit rather than returning later when the device is ordered from a specialty pharmacy. 
    •  Increase outreach to inform women about the new women’s health programs and the importance of preventive health care throughout their lifespan.  
  • Increasing access to evidence-based community and crisis mental health and substance abuse services
    • Increase funding for both community and crisis intervention services to serve more Texans with behavioral health needs.
    • Enhance funding for medication-assisted treatment for patients with substance abuse disorders, including opioid addiction.
    • Ensure funding for naloxone to help prevent overdoses for patients with opioid addictions.
    • Expand availability of supportive services such as housing assistance and peer specialists to avert high-risk patients from repeat incarcerations or frequent visitation to hospital emergency departments.
    • Expand the neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) pilot to additional counties with high incidence of NAS, including East Texas. 
  • Protecting the public’s health by investing in public health infrastructure 
    • Expand the clinical and epidemiological expertise within DSHS by increasing the number of dedicated physician and epidemiologist positions within the agency.
    • Enhance Texas’ state and local disease surveillance to prevent potential epidemics of infectious diseases such as Zika or flu.
    • Revisit implementation of Rider 81 (84th legislative session) and fund an external, reliable inventory of local public health capacity and initiatives.
    • Increase funding to provide training and expertise to local child fatality review teams. 
  • Reducing disease burden and concomitant costs by investing in evidence-based strategies to improve health, including increasing Texas’ adult and child vaccination rates, decreasing tobacco usage, and reducing potentially preventable hospitalizations 
    • Increase funding to deter tobacco usage and e-cigarettes, particularly among teens and young adults, which is on the rise and results in future taxpayer costs.
    • Initiate an ongoing, effective, robust statewide media campaign on the importance of vaccinations, with targeted campaigns towards: 
      • Boosting number of adolescents receiving the HPV vaccine,
      • Increasing vaccine rates among workers in child care settings and long-term care facilities, and
      • Increasing the number of pregnant women receiving flu and TDAP vaccines.    
    • Expand DSHS’ potentially preventable hospitalization initiatives to 50 additional counties.     
  • Fostering an effective and responsive early childhood intervention (ECI) program to help children with physical or developmental disabilities achieve their fullest potential 
    • Ensure pending acute therapy rate reductions in Medicaid do not reduce ECI access.
    • Boost funding for ECI to meet the needs of all eligible children.
    • Provide dedicated funding for child find services.      

As you prepare the LAR for each HHSC agency, we respectfully ask that you thoughtfully consider and incorporate these proposals into your exceptional item requests.

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Last Updated On

March 08, 2017