This month’s newsletter includes a summary of recent calls to expand postpartum coverage, coverage of how the Uvalde shooting is placing increased urgency on improving children’s mental health in the state, and an invitation to register for our newly announced 2022 North Texas State of Reform Health Policy Conference.
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State of Reform
1. Increased calls to extend postpartum coverage to 12 months
Following the Texas Legislature’s passage of a bill extending postpartum Medicaid coverage from 2 to 6 months last year, advocates are urging lawmakers to follow 16 other states and extend the coverage period to a full year. The bill originally extended the coverage to the 12 months recommended by HHS, but legislators amended the bill and settled on a bipartisan compromise of 6 months.
“Pregnancy complications such as postpartum depression, hemorrhage, infection, and cardiac events remain a concern in Texas and they lead to long-term health issues for mothers and babies, pricier hospital stays, and procedures of higher cost to Medicaid in the state,” said Brittany McAllister from the National Service Office of Nurse-Family Partnership and Child First. McAllister was one of numerous testimonials urging HHSC to adopt the state plan amendment at a recent hearing.
2. Registration for 2022 North Texas State of Reform now open!
We’re already starting to gear up for our fall conferences here at State of Reform, and are thrilled to have recently opened registration for the 2022 North Texas State of Reform Health Policy Conference! The event will be held at the Irving Convention Center in Dallas on Sept. 27th.
Our Convening Panel for the event is scheduled to meet today to hash through the most important topics in state health policy and highlight what our stakeholders want to see discussed at the event. Keep an eye our for the release of our Topical Agenda, a breakdown of the conference’s panel topics and times, within the next few weeks! You can register here if you know you’d like to join us in September.
3. What They’re Watching: Gregg Knaupe, Knaupe Government Relations
Echoing the sentiment of other stakeholders, lobbyist Gregg Knaupe tells us that workforce is the number one issue facing Texas health care. Knaupe is President of Knaupe Government Relations, where he has extensive experience working with hospitals and other health policy stakeholders on state and federal policy issues.
“Health care providers have struggled with hiring personnel for many, many years, and it’s just been amplified by the pandemic,” Knaupe said. “And if you take hospitals, for example, hospitals were having to essentially hire their nurses during the COVID surge from nurse staffing agencies for three, four times the [pay] per hour, and it’s just not sustainable. Same thing with home care.” He is optimistic that lawmakers will make progress in addressing these shortages during next year’s legislative session.
4. Uvalde shooting underscores need for improved youth mental health support
The most recent meeting of the House Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety began with Chair Rep. Jose Manuel Lozano acknowledging the recent shooting in Uvalde and saying it highlights the importance of the committee’s work. The committee heard testimony from children’s health advocates on policy recommendations for improving the state’s provision of care to youth, including calls to ensure children have access to counselors and wraparound services to deter acute behavioral health conditions.
“One of the reasons I’m proud to chair this committee and proud of our speaker giving us these tasks is because I serve with a bipartisan group of the most dedicated public servants, especially when it comes to issues affecting our children, like mental health or criminal justice,” said Lozano. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan recently called for the use of “budget execution” to direct $100 million in state funds to support youth mental health.
5. Hospitals failing price transparency rule
About 6-9 months after federal hospital price transparency rules went into effect, just 5.7% of facilities were completely compliant, according to recent JAMA research. The new rules require hospitals to disclose standard charges for all services in an accessible file, and require that they provide a consumer-friendly display for at least 300 shoppable services.
Of the over 5,000 hospitals evaluated, 13.9% had the accessible standard charges file, 29.4% had the shoppable display, and over half had neither of the price transparency requirements. The research also finds that hospitals in highly concentrated markets are less likely to be transparent.