Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Fax (512) 463-0923

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 6, 2006
Contact: Dave Nelson
(817) 424-3446

SENATOR NELSON RE-NAMED AS CHAIR OF HEALTH COMMITTEE;
ALSO TO SERVE ON FINANCE, NOMINATIONS, GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION

GRAPEVINE -- Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, was re-appointed today as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. She was also re-appointed to the powerful Senate Finance Committee, as well as the Committees on Government Organization and Nominations.

"I am eager to continue our efforts on the Senate Health & Human Services Committee to improve access to health care in Texas and to examine ways to contain health care costs for patients, employers and taxpayers," Senator Nelson said. "I am also honored to be re-appointed to the Finance, Government Organization and Nominating Committees. We have several important challenges ahead, and I look forward to resuming our efforts to prepare for the next legislative session."

Today's announcement comes as part of interim charges to Senate Committees assigned by Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. Senate Committees may now begin holding public hearings on the interim topics. Interim reports are due prior to the 2007 legislative session.

Following are the interim assignments for the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services:

1. Study and make recommendations for improving delivery of Texas' mental health services; consider local and regional delivery systems including access to care, cost effectiveness, choice and competition, and quality of care.

2. Monitor state and federal Medicaid reform proposals, including their impact on the Medicaid program in Texas, as well as cost-containment measures in other states, and make recommendations for legislative action, as appropriate.

3. Study and make recommendations relating to filling shortages in the health care workforce and improving medical educational services. Evaluate the state's use of the National Health Service Corps and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to address the needs of the Medicaid/Medicare and underinsured populations.

4. Examine the strategies used by other states that have had success with FQHCs and make recommendations for increasing the number of FQHCs in Texas.

5. Study and make recommendations relating to policy issues surrounding the use of emerging skin cell research, and other technologies.

6. Study and make recommendations for improving vaccination rates and ensuring an adequate vaccination supply in the state. Include an analysis of vaccine manufacturing and purchasing policies.

7. Evaluate and make recommendations relating to the creation of a comprehensive and statewide nutrition and physical activity plan to address obesity and chronic diseases. Examine options for funding components of such a plan.

8. Monitor the implementation of S.B. 6, 79th Legislature, Regular Session, relating to Child and Adult Protective Services. Study and make recommendations for development and enhancements to protocols for joint investigations by child protective service workers and law enforcement and for interviews with children for disclosure of abuse.

9. Study the current use of the 2-1-1 network to provide access to information on federal, state, and local resources. Examine and make recommendations on strategies that improve the coordination of service information and expand the availability of information on services currently provided by community and faith-based organizations.

10. Monitor the implementation of H.B. 2292, 78th Legislature, Regular Session, relating to health and human services. Focus on implementation of service coordination and consolidation efforts to assess the impact on service quality, while reducing costs.

Joint Charge with State Affairs Committee:

1. Examine and make recommendations, if necessary, regarding the state's role in regulating pharmacy benefit managers in the interest of consumer protection. Examine alternative methods of dispensing maintenance drugs, including mail service and retail pharmacies, and provide an analysis of the state's role in protecting consumers.

2. Study how to reduce dependence on Medicaid for the provision of long term care by increasing use of long-term care insurance and health savings accounts. Include a study of options for increasing the use of advance planning tools, such as health care power of attorney and living wills, to ensure more effective decision-making regarding critical end-of-life and other health care decisions. Finally, study the feasibility of implementing innovative models of nursing facility services that encourage autonomy, choice and dignity of residents.

3. Study the current laws/policies relating to forensic patients in our State Hospitals and Community Mental Health Organizations. Include analysis of and recommendations relating to pre- and post-trial forensic patients, competency laws and procedures, current treatment policies and guidelines, cost and placement considerations for creating specialty units for forensic patients, judicial discretion and medical best practices.

Reports

The Committee shall submit copies of its final report no later than December 1, 2006. The printing of reports should be coordinated through the Secretary of the Senate. Copies of the final report should be sent to the Lieutenant Governor (5 copies), Secretary of the Senate, Senate Research, Legislative Budget Board, Legislative Council, and Legislative Reference Library.

The final report should include recommended statutory or agency rulemaking changes, if applicable. Such recommendations must be approved by a majority of the voting members of the Committee. Recommendations should also include state and local fiscal cost estimates, where feasible. The Legislative Budget Board is available to assist in this regard.

SENATOR JANE NELSON, R-LEWISVILLE, represents District 12, which includes parts of Tarrant and Denton counties.

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