The Week in Review: March 20-24, and The Week Ahead: March 27 to March 31

27th Mar 2017
The Week in Review

The Senate Finance Committee passed out SB1, the General Appropriations Act,  from Committee and scheduled it for floor consideration the week of March 27th. With regard to Health and Human Services the Bill:

  • Provides $3.4B for Child Protective Services, an increase of $430M over FY 16-17 levels, including:
    • $180M increase to continue pay raises and the 828 additional caseworkers and support staff approved over the interim;
    • $116M to strengthen foster care capacity by increasing rates and expanding community-based foster care to four additional regions; and
    • $55M to hire 386 new conservatorship caseworkers to reduce caseloads;
  • Provides an additional $15M in child abuse prevention funding to maintain programs and services;
  • Allows the Department of Family and Protective Services to allocate $3M to address youth homelessness and human trafficking;
  • Provides a $780M commitment for new construction and significant repairs to the state hospital system, plus $145M for other critical life and safety capital needs at state hospitals and state supported living centers;
  • Adds $244M for mental health services in Article II, including:
    • $63M to eliminate waitlists for community mental health services;
    • $44M to maintain indigent behavioral health services to former clients of the NorthSTAR program;
    • $10M to maintain level funding for current purchased psychiatric hospital beds; and
    • $35M to maintain state hospital service levels and increase maximum security capacity;
  • Provides $20M for the Texas Veterans + Family Alliance, a grant program to assist veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues;
  • Adds $18.2M for an additional 276 Home and Community-based Services waiver slots for foster children aging out of the system;
  • Increases funding for Medicaid to provide caseload growth at FY 18 levels and assumes over $400M in cost containment initiatives; and
  • Maintains funding for women’s health programs at current appropriated levels, a $31M increase over current spending levels, and requires additional program reporting requirements.

The Texas Autism Council met where one of the important items discussed was that CMS has communicated to states that they will have more time to implement the HCS rules.  March of 2019 is no longer the date, though the new date has not been clarified.  HHSC is backing off the elimination of the center based Day Hab option.

The e-Health Advisory Committee met and there appears to be significant opportunity through the further development, refinement and interface with MCOs on the MEHIS system, providing an accessible electronic record for health and health services for patients and providers alike.  This has the potential to eliminate duplicate services, maintain control on opioid usage and drug shopping and other benefits.  

The workgroups addressing interoperability will meet over the next several months addressing:
  • Defining infrastructure including connectivity and how data is being extracted and exchanged.
  • A common vocabulary was seen as important.
  • Exploring the current state of governance.  
  • Business and Technical Operations  will most like have to interact with the group exploring infrastructure
  • Barriers to practice have to be identified.  
  • Experts will be brought in to discuss issues and input is being sought.
The Week Ahead

The uncertainty continues as the session proceeds.   The Senate will be taking up SB1 on the Senate Floor and it is anticipated that the House will take up their bill (HB1) sometime after.  HB 2, the supplemental appropriations bill was pulled last week and has been rescheduled for Wednesday, March 29th.  At this same hearing it is anticipated that HB1 will be passed out of Committee since both bills are scheduled.  With the focus being on appropriations, there are no meetings scheduled at HHSC this coming week with several meetings being scheduled for early next week.


April 3, 2017

10:00 am — Austin


April 4, 2017

10:30 am — Austin


April 5, 2017

10:00 am — Austin

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