5 Things Texas: House budget, opioid bills, Michael Keyes

We have rounded the corner of the 2019 legislative session.  Today is day 86 of the 140 day session, and we have a House budget to dig into!  So, it feels like progress is getting made as House and Senate leaders align their work.

This is our list of 5 Things We’re Watching in Texas health care for the month of April, 2019. Thanks for reading our stuff.


DJ 5 Things SignatureWith help from Emily Boerger
and Sara Gentzler. 



1. Health care highlights in House budget

After hours of debate and hundreds of amendments, the State House passed its 2020-2021 budget plan. Of the $251 billion included in the spending plan, $87.6 billion is dedicated to health and human services.

In this piece, State of Reform reporter Emily Boerger highlights the key health care funding allocations included in the House budget. On the same day the House passed its budget bill, the chamber also passed the supplemental budget, where over half of the budget is slated for health and human services. The Senate is still in the process of finalizing its version of the 2020-2021 budget.


2. Addressing the opioid crisis in Texas

A series of bills aimed at addressing the opioid crisis in Texas recently had public hearingsin committee. The bills include a bill that would limit opioid prescriptions to 7 days or less for acute pain, a bill requiring prescribers to discuss the risks of opioids with patients, and a bill requiring health professionals to complete ongoing pain management/opioid abuse medical education.

Outside of the Legislature, a recent HHSC report highlights the impact of grant money implemented through the Texas Targeted Opioid Response (TTOR) program. To date, approximately 122,579 individuals have received TTOR program services, and HHSC identified over 225 lives saved as a direct result of these efforts.

3. Health care bills with momentum

It’s a busy session for health care, with several consequential bills – beyond the opioid crisis-related bills mentioned above – scheduled for public hearing this week. State of Reform reporter Sara Gentzler highlights a handful of them here.

Included on the list are bills aimed at PBM reform (and one that “fires” PBMs altogether), changing the age for purchasing tobacco products, prohibiting surprise billing, and increasing consumer protections at freestanding ERs.


4. Video: Michael Keyes, 3M Health Information Systems

Michael Keyes is the Client Engagement Manager at 3M Health Information Systems. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss using data to improve health care.

“If you think about it, we’re kind of behind as an industry. Amazon knows what I’m going to order and search before I ever search for it, and that’s where we should be going. We should be able to not react to what’s happened to our patients, but predict what may happen and act to try and prevent that.”


5. Laying the groundwork for statewide IDD plan

Earlier this month, HHSC released the Foundation for the Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Strategic Plan, laying the groundwork for what will be Texas’s first statewide plan focused exclusively on intellectual disabilities. Using stakeholder input, the foundational plan identifies key service gaps that exist in Texas’s IDD system.

The top five services gaps include: access to IDD services, family support, integrated and competitive employment, transportation, and agency coordination. “This statewide strategic plan will help us as we develop new interventions, models of care and best practices to enhance quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Sonja Gaines, HHSC deputy executive commissioner for IDD and Behavioral Health Services.