As the curtain closes on another eventful Fourth of July holiday, I hope you'll remain ever mindful of how blessed we are to call America home.
I recently had the honor of participating in an Independence Day Parade, where I joined with thousands of fellow Texans to celebrate the many freedoms we've been afforded. It is truly heartwarming to see so many people — both young and old — come together which such enthusiasm and adoration for our country and what it represents.
God bless the United States of America!
With that, here's an update from your State Capitol. . .
Public Health/Human Services
The House Committees on Public Health and Human Services are comprised of 11 and nine members respectively. These committees hold jurisdiction over some of the most critical issues facing our growing population such as access to healthcare in underserved areas, reforming state programs that deal with mental and intellectual disabilities, and the oversight of massive agencies like the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and Department of Family and Protective Services.
The committees overlap on an array of issues and will often study issues together. One such example relates to the number of children in Child Protective Services who suffer from substance abuse or mental health disorders. While increasing treatment options through Texas Medicaid behavioral health programs will remain a topic of discussion, the committees are also interested in more effective ways to preserve original family cohesion and finding out whether many of these issues stem from an untreated illness or disorder in a guardian.
Members of the Public Health Committee are researching policy initiatives to improve access to effective and timely care for women's health programs, particularly concerning the reduction of complications at birth. Similar to the work in the aforementioned joint charge, Public Health is studying the correlation between drug and alcohol abuse, low birth weight, and pre-term labor. The committee will also study how best to prevent and treat these complications and, perhaps more importantly, examine how to deter substance abuse altogether.
Additionally, the committee will continue to review opportunities to deliver care to medically underserved areas through telemedicine — a technological industry for which the Legislature has already removed tedious red-tape to benefit millions of Texans.
On their own, Human Services will dive into the impact of Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) on the quality and cost of care for medically fragile Texans. The topic has already been discussed at great length in the House Appropriations Committee this interim, and the findings should help give us an honest assessment of how these programs are being run. Critically important in this discussion is whether there is adequate, in-network access to healthcare across the state.
The Human Services Committee will also run down any duplicative government regulations on individuals or businesses in nursing facilities that may be obstructing nurses from using the lion's share of their time to provide the best care possible. I look forward to reviewing these findings and doing all I can at the state level to improve the quality of critically important healthcare programs.
Please be advised that during the month of July, the mobile office will suspend the regular Wednesday schedule. For any questions you may have, or issues you need help resolving, please reach out to our District Director, Linda Parker. Our district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762 Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. We will make every effort to facilitate meetings and respond to your needs.
Trent Ashby represents District 57, which includes Madison County, in the Texas Legislature.