Texas House Interim Charges Prioritize Access to Care
By Emma Freer

In an extension of the 2023 state legislative session, the Texas House remains focused on expanding access among Medicaid, pregnant, and mental health care patients, goals it shares with the Texas Medical Association.  

This is according to the roughly 70 interim charges Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan recently issued for lower chamber committees to study ahead of the 2025 legislative session. 

Meanwhile, TMA continues to champion medicine-friendly policy by testifying during interim committee hearings and by culling its second annual list of legislative priorities for the upcoming session. Zeke Silva, MD, a radiologist in San Antonio and the incoming council chair, recently told Texas Medicine Today this process is guided by TMA policy and member physicians. 

On the Medicaid front, the Committee on Appropriations is tasked with monitoring the implementation of House Bill 1. The vehicle for Texas’ 2024-25 budget includes a 6% boost to Medicaid payments for pediatric care and labor and delivery services. 

TMA championed the policy change as vital to preserving Medicaid patients’ access to care and Medicaid physicians’ practice viability. The association also hopes to build on these targeted pay raises in future sessions, underscoring the importance of HB 1’s successful rollout. 

The Committee on Health and Human Services will evaluate the state’s role overseeing Medicaid managed care. This charge arrives amid a competitive bidding process for new state contracts with health plans to administer Medicaid services. 

Both the Committee on Health and Human Services and the Committee on Public Health will tackle women’s health challenges. The former is responsible for monitoring the implementation of TMA-backed HB  1575 by Rep. Lacey Hull (R-Hull), which requires Medicaid managed care and other state programs to screen pregnant enrollees for nonmedical drivers of health. Its passage in 2023 was one of several TMA wins that session related to maternal and behavioral health care for women and children. 

The Public Health Committee also is responsible for investigating closures of obstetrics units in rural areas and the attendant effects on infant and maternal mortality. In addition to the Medicaid rate increases, TMA advocacy last session led to tripled Medicaid add-on payments for deliveries in rural hospitals and expanded postpartum Medicaid coverage.  

The committee’s charges also include mental health care access, specifically:  

  • Monitoring the implementation of Senate Bill 26, which allows hospitals, mental health authorities, and other entities working with children and families to seek matching funds from the state to improve and expand programs aimed at early identification, intervention, and treatment of mental illness.  
  • Evaluating best practices around the emergency detention of a person with mental illness.  

The Texas Legislature will reconvene for its 89th session on Jan. 14, 2025.  

For more information about TMA’s state advocacy, check out its dedicated webpage.

Last Updated On

June 03, 2024

Originally Published On

June 03, 2024

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Emma Freer

Associate Editor

(512) 370-1383

Emma Freer is a reporter for Texas Medicine. She previously worked in local news, covering city politics, economic development, and public health. A native Clevelander, she graduated from Columbia Journalism School and the University of St. Andrews.

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