Texas Senate to Analyze Pandemic Response, Health Care Workforce
By Joey Berlin

The state’s health care workforce and its pandemic response will be under examination by the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee during this interim year of the Texas Legislature. Medicaid, mental health, and e-cigarettes will get a close look from other Senate panels.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick on April 4 released interim charges for Senate committees to study before the next state legislative session kicks off in January 2023. His charges distributed most of the health care-related topics to the Health and Human Services Committee. Among them:

  • Public health data – Review public health data collection and coordination processes for local and state entities and regional trauma centers; identify any barriers to real-time data dissemination regarding health care facility capacity and mortality rates.
  • Health care workforce – Study the impact of the global pandemic on the health care workforce in both acute and long-term care; identify health care staffing challenges and examine how payment models and staffing services changed the economics of the health care workforce; identify ways to increase the workforce pipeline.
  • Pandemic response – Examine the impact of federal and state pandemic policies on patient care and treatment delivery; recommend changes needed “to ensure Texas can develop its own data-driven guidance during public health emergencies.”

Lt. Gov. Patrick delegated a key Medicaid-related charge to the Senate Finance Committee. He asked that panel to monitor the financial impact of federal decision-making that affects additional Medicaid funding for Texas hospitals and health care systems. That includes negotiations on the state’s Medicaid 1115 Transformation Waiver “and other federal proposals reducing supplemental funding streams for Texas.”

The Finance Committee will also examine the state’s mental health service delivery system, evaluate the state’s investments in mental health services and hospital capacity, and explore options for “additional mental health service capacity, including building state hospitals in the Panhandle and Rio Grande Valley areas.”

On the public health front, vaping – one of the Texas Medical Association’s top public health priorities in recent years – will be a focus of the Education Committee as it examines school policy. That panel will take a look at the enforcement of existing laws requiring school districts to prohibit e-cigarettes, and determine “if additional policies or laws are needed to protect students’ health.”

Meanwhile, the Higher Education Committee was charged with reviewing “financial aid and scholarship opportunities in Texas related to teaching, health care, and law enforcement, and examin[ing] methods to increase participation in these and other high-demand fields.”

The Texas House of Representatives received its interim charges from House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) last month.

Last Updated On

April 05, 2022

Originally Published On

April 05, 2022

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Joey Berlin

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Joey Berlin is managing editor of Texas Medicine. His previous work includes stints as a reporter and editor for various newspapers and publishing companies, and he’s covered everything from hard news to sports to workers’ compensation. Joey grew up in the Kansas City area. He lives in Austin.

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