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Senate Interim Committee on Health and Human Services
Charges

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services was charged with monitoring the development of Medicaid and welfare reform on a state and national level. In January 1996, the charges were broadened to include a review of the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services' (DPRS) investigations of abuse and neglect at the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MHMR) facilities. In May 1996, these charges were again expanded to include recommendations for improving the immunization program and identifying steps to limit access to tobacco and alcohol by children.
Recommendations

In total, 240 recommendations were submitted to the committee by agencies, organizations and the public. The committee adopted 25 motions, which were reorganized and renumbered into recommendations by issue. All of the motions were adopted unanimously by the committee. The committee and staff worked extensively prior to adoption of the motions to ensure that differences were worked out. As legislation is developed and is considered by the 75th Legislature, it is likely that these recommendations will be refined.

MEDICAID AND WELFARE REFORM

  • Reaffirm goals relating to Texas' 1995 statewide Medicaid reforms.

  • Reinvest managed care savings in the Medicaid program.

  • Expand Medicaid services to children and adults, with a priority on children's coverage.

  • Allow local funding sources to be certified as Medicaid match.

  • Revise Texas' statewide Medicaid waiver application to allow hospital districts, in conjunction with children's hospitals, to form regional networks to provide services to newly eligible children.

  • Implement managed care in Texas communities using alternative federal authority until the statewide Medicaid waiver is approved.

  • Develop standards for managed care organizations.

  • Develop a pilot program for children with special health needs.

  • Ensure client access through the Medicaid Vendor Drug (prescriptions) Program.

  • Provide better coordination for long-term care.

  • Change certain provisions in welfare reform to increase participation in Texas' work programs.

    DPRS INVESTIGATIONS OF MHMR AND COMMUNITY FACILITIES

  • Allow DPRS to prioritize investigations.

  • Give MHMR more authority to release employees who are found to have abused, neglected, or exploited disabled clients.

  • Clarify definitions and rules relating to investigations and require an annual report detailing investigations.

  • Develop a program to improve the efficiency and professionalism of DPRS investigators at MHMR facilities.

    MEDICALLY FRAGILE CHILDREN IN NURSING HOMES

  • Provide temporary support and services for families with medically fragile children at home to provide additional time in identifying potential resources for long-term support other than nursing home care.

  • Provide for review of the Texas Sunset Commission's recommendations on DPRS programs affecting special needs children.

    IMMUNIZATION PROGRAMS AND

    LIMITING CHILDREN'S ACCESS TO TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL

  • Expand immunization and education programs and require statewide tracking.

  • Provide that any legislation not pre-empt local smoking ordinances.

  • Prohibit minors' possession of tobacco, mandating education and awareness programs for minors who violated possession laws, and license retailers to sell tobacco, with a fee dedicated to enforcement and education of minors.

  • Study whether tobacco should be declared a dangerously addictive and harmful product.

  • Ban children's access to certain establishments selling alcohol and develop new education programs.