The Senate Committee on Health & Human Services interim report to the 88th Legislature covers public health data, impact of the pandemic on health care workers, and the impact of state and federal pandemic policies. For more information see the full report here.

Charge 1. Review the processes for public health data collection and coordination by local and state entities as well as regional trauma centers. Identify any continuing barriers to the real-time dissemination of data concerning health care facility capacity‚ÄĒincluding data that can expedite timely care‚ÄĒand mortality rates, as well as other information that can assist in public policy decisions.

  • Streamline communication efforts among public health agencies through a well defined hierarchical structure.
  • Ensure collected data points are well defined and accurately reflect what is happening in hospitals.
  • Assess the need for a statewide transfer and bed capacity system that would allow for seamless review and processing, avoiding costly delays among hospitals.
  • Ensure future public health emergencies differentiate rural and urban population areas in terms of public health decision-making
  • Require health-related data associated with public health emergencies to be submitted to a single designated agency dedicated to providing data-driven efforts to the state with quality recommendations on public health matters.
  • Require Texas Department of State Health Services to promote public knowledge and awareness of data reporting related to adverse vaccine events (VAERS).
  • Require DSHS to maintain its own publicly available “adverse events” tracking system related to vaccines and early treatments for COVID-19.

Charge 3. Study the impact of the global pandemic on the health care workforce in acute and long-term care. Identify health care staffing challenges and examine how staffing services and payment models changed the economics of the health care workforce. Identify and recommend ways to increase the health care workforce pipeline.

  • Reexamine funding for the Nursing Shortage programs increase would reduce the educational bottleneck and determine whether an Extend the statutory expiration date for the Nursing Innovation Grant Program (NIGP) from 2023 to 2027.
  • Consider ways to direct health care professionals to medically underserved regions of the state.
  • Consider alternatives for medical school graduates who cannot place in Texas residency slots.
  • Fund additional Graduate Medical Education slots to keep more Texas medical graduates in state.
  • Evaluate the feasibility of allowing for mental health related degrees to be approved across multiple mental health care fields as it pertains to licensing requirements.
  • Consider limiting the ability of staffing agencies from charging exorbitant prices during a public health disaster disaster.

Charge 4. Examine the impact of state and federal pandemic policies-including agency guidance, licensing and regulatory actions, and health care industry policies‚ÄĒon patient care and treatment delivery. Examine how regulatory guidance impacts the patient-doctor relationship. Recommend any changes needed to ensure Texas can develop its data-driven guidance during public health emergencies.

  • Assess the capacity by which infectious disease control services are provided in Texas. Ensure the state has transparent, data-driven recommendations on public health matters; and consider establishing an independent, transparent state-based regulatory authority for developing and distributing disease treatment.
  • Examine statutory changes to ensure patients have access to prescriptions submitted by licensed physicians in Texas related to COVID-19.
  • Prohibit future mask mandates.
  • Prohibit COVID-19 vaccine mandates and maintain that vaccines remain voluntary.
  • Form a special committee/working group on medical censorship.
  • Establish a grant program accessible to Texas-based independent entities to conduct research on the adverse events of the COVID-19 vaccines directly associated with vaccine use.

Charge 5. Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure intended legislative outcome of all legislation including SB 1137, SB 809, SB 454, SB 968, and SB 25/SJR 19.

  • The committee did not make any recommendations for this charge.