Friday, February 10, 2006

Senate committees receive interim charges

Lt. Gov. Dewhurst has appointed some new interim committees and issued interim charges for the Senate's standing committees (finally). Of interest to the Texas HIV/AIDS community are the following charges:

Finance--

4. Review health care funding, focusing on the Medicaid program, Medicare Part D, hospital reimbursements and trauma and indigent care.

Health and Human Services--

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.

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.

H&HS 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.

Reports are due by December 1. Hearings and meetings should start popping up on calendars soon.

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