The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services met Tuesday, February 23, 2010 to discuss interim charges 5 and 12 with invited speakers who represented an agency perspective, providers’ perspective, and advocates’ perspective.

Charge #12 – Review the Medicaid HCBS waivers (CBA, STAR Plus, CLASS, MDCP, DBMT, TxHmL) and develop recommendations to assure that people with significant disabilities, regardless of disability label or age, receive needed services to remain in or transition to the community. Review should look at the delivery system, eligibility, service packages, rate structures, workforce issues and funding caps. Examine options for the provision of services for children aging out of the Medicaid system. Make recommendations for streamlining/combining these waivers, ensuring that these waivers are cost effective or create cost savings, and developing policies that contain costs in an effort to increase access to these services. The review should examine other states' community care waivers and provide recommendations relating to efforts that have been successful in other states.

In regards to interim charge 12, agency representatives from the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC), and Texas Council of Community MHMR Centers presented outlines detailing completed and continuing efforts to streamline and standardize Medicaid service and support forms and processes.

Charge #5 – Study the state’s current and long-range need for physicians, nurses, dentists and other allied health and long-term care professionals. Provide recommendations for ensuring sufficient numbers of health care professionals, focusing on medically underserved and rural areas of the state as well as the Border region. Consider health care delivered by Advanced Practice Nurses in terms of access, cost and patient safety and include an assessment of independent prescriptive authority with those states in which prescriptive authority is delegated by a physician. Make recommendations to enhance the efficient use of Advanced Practice Nurses in Texas.

In regards to interim charge 5, the current condition of the health professions workforce was discussed, and recommendations for moving forward were advanced along with comments from health care professionals’ perspective. In moving forward, the Committee will pay close attention to the state’s workforce shortage, rate of obesity among Texans, and the effect of the state’s ever-changing demographics (as that relates to health care concerns).

Public testimony was permitted at the end of discussion for each charge.   

For the full report from HHSC: