5 Things Texas: Aging Texas Plan, STAR+PLUS, Texas conference


Eli Kirshbaum


This is the last Texas “5 Things” of 2022, and what a year it’s been! Those in the health policy world have been through a lot this year, so thank you for all the hard work you do to improve health care and for supporting our journalism.

Registration is now open for our 2022 State of Reform Federal Health Policy Conference, which we will host on Feb. 17. This event will be entirely virtual, meaning you can participate from wherever you’d like!

We also recently opened registration for our upcoming 2022 Texas State of Reform Health Policy Conference. More details on that event below…

Thanks for reading and happy holidays!

Eli Kirshbaum
State of Reform

1. BBB could close coverage gap, but unlikely to lead to Medicaid expansion

The BBB Act’s provisions to increase coverage in non-expansion states have strong potential to close Texas’s coverage gapaccording to Joan Alker, co-founder of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families. She says the over 5 million uninsured Texansincluding the nation-leading 771,000-plus individuals in the state’s coverage gap—as well as providers of uncompensated care would benefit considerably from the BBB’s provision granting coverage gap individuals subsidized marketplace coverage.

Medicaid expansion, Alker said, is still unlikely to happen even with BBB’s incentives to do so. “There already are additional fiscal incentives from the American Rescue Plan last year for states that expand [Medicaid] … The 12 states that still refuse to [expand Medicaid] do it for political reasons. So those probably won’t change.”


2. Registration for 2022 Texas State of Reform now open!

We recently opened registration for our 2022 Texas State of Reform Health Policy Conference, scheduled for March 10th! We’re excited to be returning to in-person events this year and will be requiring proof of vaccination for all attendees.

We hosted the event’s Convening Panel meeting this morning to hear from stakeholders about what topics in state health policy they believe are most important to cover. From here, our team will work with these folks to curate a Topical Agenda for the event, which should be released within the next couple weeks!

3. HHSC updates its priorities for aging Texans

HHSC updated its priorities for Texas’s older population with the release of its 2022-2023 Strategic Plan last week. The plan serves as a roadmap for how the agency can best support the over 9,000,000 Texans 50 and older, and is based on survey responses from older adults, informal caregivers, and social service providers.

The top three priorities HHSC identified among older adults were physical health, access to social engagement opportunities, and access to community supports and services. To address these priorities, the plan calls for increasing service availability, connecting older adults with fixed incomes to free or low-cost services, and promoting social engagement resources like virtual social groups.


4. STAR+PLUS Pilot Program will carve LTSS for IDD individuals into Medicaid

HHSC recently announced a pilot program to carve LTSS for individuals with IDD, traumatic brain injuries, and similar functional needs into Medicaid managed care. The STAR+ PLUS (SP3) Pilot Program coverage will include adaptive aids, cognitive rehabilitation therapy, dental services, and home-delivered meals.

The program is slated to operationalize by Sept. 1, 2023, in either Bexar County, Tarrant County, or Medicaid Rural Service Area Northeast, depending on which service area HHSC selects during the RFP process for SP3. HHSC said it chose these areas to test the two-year pilot program based on their eligible pilot participants and potential providers, as well as their geographic representation of urban, suburban, and rural areas.

5. Op-Ed: Dallas Metroplex state psychiatric hospital

HHSC and the UT Southwestern Medical Center are partnering to build the first state psychiatric hospital in the Metroplex area in an effort to address Texas’s growing mental health needs. In this op-ed from HHSC’s Tim Bray and UTSW’s Carol Tamminga, MD, the two mental health advocates describe how the new facility will fill a crucial gap in the DFW metropolitan area’s mental health needs.

Bray and Tamminga say the new hospital—which will have around 200 inpatient beds—will decrease the backlog of patients waiting for mental health care at the state hospital. It will also help advance psychiatric research at UTSW. The project is made possible by a $237.8 million funding allocation from the legislature.