Abbott calls for permanent expansion of telemedicine

Aside from commending Texas’ nation-leading vaccination efforts, promising to protect 2nd Amendment rights and quoting the Declaration of Independence, Gov. Greg Abbott revealed his hopes for this year’s legislative session in his 2021 State of the State Address. Among these was a call for legislators to permanently expand telemedicine services. “This session must be used to ensure a healthier Texas,” he said.

 

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He emphasized how critical telehealth services have been in getting needed health services to Texans this past year. Noting that these services benefit both patients and doctors, Abbott said he wants lawmakers to pass legislation to expand telemedicine indefinitely.

The governor wants to ensure that Texans with pre-existing conditions have access to health care — but that they can do so without needing to utilize the Affordable Care Act. He thanked Chief Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, and Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner for the Texas State Department of Health Services, for their help. He attributed the establishment of the state’s therapeutic infusion centers to them.

He stressed the importance of mental health support for Texans, praising the steps the state has taken to address mental health issues.

“If we are going to fully address COVID-related health issues, we must also focus on the mental health challenges that Texans are facing. During the pandemic, we created a 24/7 mental health support line, provided crisis counseling and established virtual access for behavioral services. They were funded by the almost $8 billion that the Legislature devoted to mental health last session. I will work with the Legislature this session to ensure that Texas continues to address these challenges.”

Abbott also wants the Legislature to pass civil liability protections for workers.

“I am asking the Legislature to quickly get a bill to my desk that provides civil liability protections for individuals, businesses and healthcare providers that operated safely during the pandemic. This will be an emergency item this session.”

Other topics addressed in his speech include fortifying Texas’ southern border to decrease immigration, increasing resources for law enforcement and the proliferation of businesses in the state.

“Hard-working Texans are at the forefront of our agenda this legislative session as we build a healthier, safer, freer, and more prosperous state.”