Health Officials Lay Out Blueprint for Making Texas Healthier
By Sean Price

Burgess

Texas health officials Wednesday released their inaugural "Blueprint for a Healthy Texas," which identifies 12 health care target areas most important to the state and lays out plans for addressing them in 2020.

“Our plan identifies key areas of focus that will guide our agencies’ work throughout this fiscal year," Courtney N. Phillips, PhD, Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) executive commissioner, said in a statement. "It provides a transparent framework for how we will move forward and improve services to Texans.”

The 12 areas singled out in the report are women and children; behavioral health; disabilities; regulatory health and safety; Medicaid managed care; services and supports; advocacy for people in long-term care; supplemental and directed payment programs; HHSC workplace culture and recruitment; procurement and contracting; quality control; and technology and innovation.

"TMA applauds this bold approach of identifying several areas in which the state can aim for measurable improvements to our patients’ health and well-being," said David C. Fleeger, MD, president of the Texas Medical Association.

Under these 12 areas, HHSC detailed 72 goals and how to accomplish them. For instance, HHSC adopted seven goals for improving health among women and children:

  • Increase use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) through several efforts, including reducing the costs to physicians of stocking LARCs, and increasing outreach and education about them;
  • Increase the number of women getting prenatal care by focusing on the two areas of the state with the lowest rates of Medicaid prenatal visits – West Texas and the Panhandle;
  • Increase pregnancy medical home sites, creating four new sites to bring the state's total to five;
  • Address barriers to breastfeeding by expanding resources for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to bring up relatively low rates of breastfeeding among African-American infants;
  • Start initiatives that create baseline measurements for future efforts to address disparities in the death rates from breast cancer among African-American women;
  • Boost the number of children getting well-child visits by implementing best practices; and
  • Improve outcomes for children with chronic asthma with greater scrutiny of the reporting done by managed care organizations for people with special health needs. This is designed to cut the number of children with chronic asthma visiting emergency departments.

"Promising goals, specifically regarding increasing babies’ access to preventive care and easing women’s paths to cancer screenings and long-acting reversible contraception, have the potential to save both lives and dollars – particularly among minority and underserved Texans.” Dr. Fleeger said.

The 2021 version of the plan will report how HHSC measured on all 2020 initiatives and will include goals for 2021 and beyond, the agency says.

 

Last Updated On

October 16, 2019

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Sean Price

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Sean Price is a reporter for Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. He grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He's worked as an award-winning writer and editor for a variety of national magazine, book, and website publishers in New York and Washington. He's also helped produce Texas-based marketing campaigns designed to promote public health. Sean lives in Austin and enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time with his wife and two sons.

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