Texas lawmakers to prioritize children’s health in next legislative session

State leaders are prioritizing the health and welfare of Texas children in the legislative interim. Two interim committees to address the physical and mental well-being of children were established in September. As part of the state’s 2022 interim charges, the bi-partisan House Select Committee on Health Care Reform will examine and consider issues that affect the health care delivery system in Texas for the next legislative session. Meanwhile, the House Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety will focus on improving mental health care for kids and youth. 

 

 

The Select Committees will review areas for delivery improvements, emphasizing access to comprehensive health care, strengthening outreach to families with children who are eligible for but unenrolled in Medicaid or CHIP, and addressing accessibility to prenatal care, mental health care, and other support for children. The audit will include reviews of uncompensated care and other 1115 Waiver subjects.

Last month, Patrick announced the formation of the Special Committee on Child Protective Services after reports of abuse in a state-sponsored foster care facility emerged. House Speaker Dade Phelan (R – Beaumont) also directed the Human Services Committee in March to study child protection issues for reforms to foster care. 

Child advocates have urged state leaders to protect eligible children from losing their insurance by ensuring mothers and their children who lose Medicaid eligibility can smoothly transition to affordable care plans, like CHIP, Healthy Texas Women, or the ACA Marketplace. In a statement to State of Reform, Texans Care for Children said the reprioritization was promising.

“We’re excited to see that Speaker Phelan is planning to make health care a priority again. The Legislature has a chance to ensure more kids can make it to their check-ups, more parents are able to find support for their kids with disabilities or mental health challenges, and more moms have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies,” said Diana Forester, the organization’s Director of Health Policy.

“Last session, the Legislature recognized the importance of making sure that eligible kids are not mistakenly knocked off of their health insurance. To reach that goal, the Legislature will need to see what follow-up is needed on the bill they passed and ensure the state isn’t leaving eligible kids uninsured as it processes millions of Medicaid renewals at the end of the federal Public Health Emergency.”

Texans Care for Children says it will work closely with the health reform committee on outreach and enrollment to ensure more eligible kids are covered and receive the care they need. It is also calling on the state to expand postpartum health coverage for mothers from the current six months to 12 months. Lawmakers passed HB 133 last year, which extends postpartum Medicaid insurance coverage for six months rather than two months after delivery.

The House and Senate agendas over the interim also include improvements to telehealth and access for rural communities, state mental health delivery system, and community mental health services for children.