House Will Study Behavioral Health, Early Childhood Intervention, and More
By Joey Berlin

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Among a number of health care-related topics, the Texas House of Representatives during the interim “off” year in 2020 will study the state’s behavioral health system, child trafficking prevention, and the effect of technology and “big data” on insurance. 

House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) released the chamber’s interim charges last week. Some of the health care issues House committees will study ahead of the 2021 legislative session include: 

  • Public Health – Review the state’s behavioral health capacity, focusing on suicide prevention efforts and the provision of behavioral health services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; review and evaluate the effectiveness of suicide prevention programs across state agencies. 
  • Juvenile Justice & Family Issues – Examine the effectiveness of current law related to child trafficking to strengthen the Governor’s Child Sex Trafficking Team; identify legislative strategies to reduce vulnerabilities for at-risk youth and promote access to hotlines, universal screenings, and support services. 
  • Insurance – Study the adequacy of Texas laws regulating the introduction of “insurtech” (insurance technology) products into the insurance market, including a look at the impact of big data and artificial intelligence technologies on industry practices like claims handling; study whether those technologies present any challenges for state insurance law, including anti-discrimination, data privacy, and licensing laws. 
  • House Appropriations – Examine state investments in the health and brain development of babies and toddlers, including Early Childhood Intervention and other programs for children in the first three years; review the ability of hospital finance methods, including graduate medical education payments and trauma funding, to support Texas hospitals, including rural and children’s hospitals. 
  • Human Services – Examine the adequacy of Medicaid payments for nursing facilities, including the Quality Incentive Payment Program and incentive-based payment models; study the impact of the STAR+PLUS managed care program on care, operations, and patient outcomes in nursing facilities. 

The Appropriations, Human Services, and Public Health committees will team up on a charge to review how the state is preparing for budgetary changes that affect its health programs. Among the potential drivers of those changes that the committees will factor in: the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposed Medicaid Fiscal Accountability rule; the 1115 Healthcare Transformation and Quality Improvement Program Waiver; and the Healthy Texas Women Section 1115 Demonstration Waiver. 

The state Senate released its list of interim charges in late October. They include a directive to the Senate Business & Commerce Committee to “[s]tudy and report on ways to … decrease the uninsured rate in Texas” as part of its examination of the cost of health care.

Last Updated On

December 02, 2019

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Joey Berlin

Associate Editor

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Joey Berlin is associate 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 and attended the University of Kansas. He lives in Austin.

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