From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Kelvin Bass
(214) 467-0123
September 29, 2004

Senator West brings head of Health and Human Services Commission for Town Hall Meeting

DALLAS -- State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) has invited Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins to Dallas for a Town Hall Meeting to discuss the massive reorganization of Texas' health care system. HB2292, passed by the 78th Legislature during the 2003 Regular Session ordered the complete overhaul of the state's health care agencies. The meeting will take place Tuesday, October 5, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. at the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center,1201 E. 8th St.

"To my knowledge this is the largest organizational restructuring effort ever to occur within the ranks of Texas government," said Senator West. "That said, it is paramount that those who at any level, access health care as delivered by the State of Texas, be made aware that these changes are indeed taking place. Medicaid and CHIP recipients, care providers and physicians will all be impacted to some extent by this consolidation process. Needless to say, budget and service cuts are part of this reorganization." Prior to the passage of HB2292, 12 agencies were responsible for more than 200 state-administered programs ranging from elderly and nursing home care, to rehabilitative programs, to adult and child protective services. Those agencies have been consolidated into four umbrella agencies that will provide oversight for health care delivery in Texas. The consolidation is part of a transition plan prepared by the Health and Human Services Commission as mandated by the Legislature. The plan was submitted to Governor Rick Perry for approval in December 2003.

"As a member of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, the various components of HB2292 were debated at length for weeks as it moved through for passage," said Senator West. "Many hard choices were made last Session. I witnessed people in wheelchairs beg lawmakers to keep services targeted for elimination. I remind that it is more important than ever that citizens, that professionals and advocacy groups become part of the legislative process when matters such as this are being considered. I look forward to seeing Dallas County turn out to gain insight as to what health care in Texas will look like in coming years."

With the passage of HB2292, cuts to the Children's Health Insurance Program have resulted in more than 147,000 children losing coverage statewide. In Dallas County, more than 12,000 children have been dropped from CHIP rosters since September 2003. Dental and vision coverages are no longer provided by CHIP. Reduced state funding for preventive care has resulted in more children being treated in hospital emergency rooms at additional costs to counties.

Organizational streamlining implemented under HB2292 created the Department of Aging Services, the Department of State Health Services, the Department of Family and Protective Services and the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. All are under the authority of the Health and Human Services Commission. Full transition is scheduled over the next five years. Texas will spend about $20 billion in FY 04-05 combined state and federal dollars providing health care to its citizens.

For more information, please contact LaJuana Barton or Kelvin Bass at 214-467-0123.