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January 11, 2000     (512) 463-0300

The Senate Committe on Health Services Meets in Dallas

DALLAS-The Senate Committee on Health Services met today, at the University of Texas-Soutwestern Medical School, in Dallas, January 11, 2000. Senator Jane Nelson of Flour Mound chairs the Health Services Committee, Senator Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth is co-chair. Other members include Senators Jon Lindsay of Houston, Frank Madla of San Antonio and Drew Nixon of Carthage.

The Health Services Committee heard public testimony regarding its interim charges. Those charges include Medicaid reform, pharmaceutical, biotechnology and genetic research, the distribution of patient-specific medical information, the effects of the Vaccinations for Children Program, the retention of trained healthcare providers in rural areas, and the implementation of Senate Bill 445, the Children's Health Insurance Program.

After being welcomed by Dr. Kurt Wildenthal of UT-Southwestern, the Health Services Committee members heard testimony relating to the states health care system. Dr. David Vanderpool, of the Dallas County Medical Society, urged the Health Services Committee to prepare Texas against bio-terrorism. Dr. Vanderpool believes that it's only a matter of time before terrorists introduce deadly diseases into the population as a way of attacking America and the state of Texas.

Managed care for those who can't afford conventional insurance was also high on the Health Services Committee''s agenda. Don Gilbert, Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner, gave an overview of how the rollout of managed care for Medicaid patients has been going. Other health care professionals from the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex urged the Health Services Committee to monitor the quality of health care being provided to the indigent--especially when it comes to verifying that everyone eligible for health care is enrolled--so that it is not compromised in the drive to save health care funding.

The Health Services Committee is also concerned with charges that some medical records have been improperly sent from health care organizations to patients' employers. Health Services Committee members were assured by health care industry representatives that the confidentiality of patient records is an important issue within their field of work. Yet, industry representatives stated that some health record information has to be shared for various research purposes.

Other concerns expressed to the Health Services Committee included: reaching the growing elderly population in rural Texas in order to offer health care, continuing state support for the Children's Vaccination Programs, and helping Texas create centers for biomedical research.

The Health Services Committee recessed subject to the call of the chair with its next meeting scheduled for February 7, in Houston.

Click here to listen to the hearing in RealAudio format.

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