The Texas State Senate: Senate Committee on State Affairs
Senate Committee on State Affairs
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80th Session Interim
80th Regular Session
- Study the factors that impact the transparency and efficiency of the health insurance market. Make recommendation to result in the use of best practices, lower health care costs, and better health outcomes, including the following:
- Study factors contributing to the increasing cost of health care;
- Study insurer and health maintenance organization (HMO) use of tiers, ratings, or classifications to differentiate among credentialed physicians already admitted to the insurer or HMO panel of preferred providers or network;
- Examine methods to remediate incorrect tiering, ratings, or classifications;
- Examine how physicians are notified of the standards against which they will be compared and whether they are notified of the standards prior to the evaluation period;
- Improve transparency with respect to the marketing of prescription drugs; and
- Study the use of certain nonprofit health corporations - approved under Chapter 162, Occupations Code, in Texas. Examine whether such entities operate on a statewide scale or on a limited scale, whether such entities adhere to the formalities required of corporations, whether the operation of such entities are influenced by owners or members who are not licensed to practice medicine, and whether such entities have ever been decertified or investigated for failure to maintain compliance with Texas law or regulations.
- Study and make recommendations for reducing the number of uninsured Texans, focusing on the following:
- Options to increase access to private health insurance, including 3 Share programs, employer sponsored plans and portable, individual insurance;
- Incentives for encouraging counties and local governments to participate in private health insurance cost sharing for their respective residents;
- Options to reduce health care premiums, including creation of special plans with increased deductibles and catastrophic coverage;
- Implementation and possible expansion of health services districts;
- Other state programs for increasing market-based coverage of the uninsured, including costs and effectiveness;
- Options that will increase consumer choice and personal responsibility; and
- Analysis of state and federal regulations that contribute to higher premium costs.
- Study and make recommendations relating to the Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool, including the current eligibility for coverage requirements, the economic profiles of participants and former participants, the affordability of the insurance products' premiums and deductibles, and the public's awareness of the Pool.
- Study the issue of security and accuracy in Texas elections. The study should include the benefits and risks of electronic voting technology, including the necessity of maintaining a paper record of each electronic vote. The study should also include an analysis of fraud in Texas elections, including prosecution rates for voter fraud, the processes for purging ineligible voters from voter lists, and the integrity of the mail-in and provisional ballot systems. Study the effectiveness of electronic voting technology and voter ID laws in other states. Monitor the implementation of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, including the implementation of the Texas Election Administration Management system. Recommend statutory and regulatory changes designed to ensure that only eligible voters are allowed to vote in Texas elections and that each vote is accurately counted.
- Review and make recommendations for requiring insurance coverage of routine medical care for patients with a life-threatening disease or condition who have elected to participate in a clinical trial.
- Study the economic impact of recent civil justice reform legislation in Texas.
- Study whether Texas should adopt the Restatement 2nd of Torts Sec. 674 (Wrongful use of Civil Proceedings) and whether a person should be allowed to recover court and attorneys fees when he has been forced to defend a lawsuit filed without probable cause or for intimidation purposes.
- Monitor the Texas workers' compensation system, and the continued implementation of the reforms of HB 7, 79th Legislature, Regular Session, by the Texas Department of Insurance and other state agencies. Specifically evaluate the recent decision by the Texas Supreme Court in Entergy v. Summers in terms of its impact and the impact of previous legislation on the workers' compensation system.
- Study and make recommendations to reduce illegal gambling in Texas, including, but not limited to, the illegal use of Eight-Liners.
- Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of phasing in a defined-contribution pension for future employees versus the existing defined-benefit pension plan. Study options for transition or implementation issues and how the phase-in could be structured. Evaluate the possibility of requiring the state employee contribution rate to meet the annually required contribution for the statewide retirement funds each biennium in order to prevent unfunded liabilities.
- Study the relationship between the public mental health system and the criminal justice and civil courts systems, including the identification and sharing of information regarding mentally ill offenders, including minors, among criminal justice and mental health agencies, the courts, state hospitals, and the Veterans Administration. Study how current confidentiality laws impact the exchange of information among groups described above. Study the sentencing of mentally ill offenders compared to non-mentally ill offenders, including minors, and the affect that has on statewide prison capacity and on the quality of health care provided to mentally ill offenders. (Joint charge with Senate Criminal Justice Committee)
- Review and evaluate appropriate state regulation of a private operator of the state lottery should the state receive bids for a lease of the lottery that merit strong consideration. Provide recommendations for ensuring the security and integrity of the lottery and for adequate consumer protections. (Joint charge with Senate Finance Committee)
- Study the feasibility and the advisability of establishing an investment policy that is consistent across all state trust funds, including the trust funds of the Employees Retirement System, the Teachers Retirement System, the Permanent University Fund, and the Permanent School Fund. Identify best investment policies for state trust funds. Examine recent portfolio diversification strategies and the effect they have on long-term fund performance. The recommendations should consider what is an acceptable rate of return, an acceptable degree of risk, the appropriateness of certain investments. (Joint charge with Senate Finance Committee)
- Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the State Affairs Committee, 80th Legislature, Regular Session, and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation. In particular, monitor and report on the effect of HB 2365, which allows public entities to report "other post employment benefits" (OPEBs) on a statutory modified accrual basis, including any effect on auditor opinions, bond ratings, or other fiscal issues. Monitor the implementation of Senate Bill 1731, relating to transparency of health information, and Senate Bill 1846, relating to TRS.
The following reports are available for download: