Providing a Unified Voice
Our Government Affairs and Advocacy team provides a unified voice for Texas Health at the federal, state and local levels of government by:
- Assessing the impact of potential legislative and regulatory changes on Texas Health and the communities we serve.
- Engaging our leaders, employees, clinicians, trustees and community partners in developing and advancing Texas Health's public policy priorities.
- Conducting hospital site visits and coordinating advocacy events with policymakers.
- Employing multiple communication channels to lead and facilitate strategic policy initiatives.
- Enhancing community partnerships and collaboration with key elected officials/staff and community, business and industry stakeholders to support Texas Health's federal and state public policy agenda.
As Texas Health transforms to meet consumers' shifting needs, we are continually called upon to help navigate the ever-changing, complex public policy environment, mitigate risk and create value for the communities we serve.
To address ongoing COVID-19 issues, workforce shortages and other operational challenges in 2021, Texas Health successfully advocated for federal and state legislation, regulation and policies that:
Protected caregivers and patients from COVID-19
- Ensured broad liability protection for healthcare providers and other businesses acting in good faith during the pandemic.
- Preserved staff vaccination requirements for various vaccine-preventable diseases to protect employees, patients and visitors.
- Created visitation policies that balance the need to keep patients and staff safe while also recognizing the healing nature of in-person contact during periods of emergency or disaster.
Benefitted vulnerable consumers
- Continued advocating for state and federal authorities to fund the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment, Uniform Hospital Rate Increase and Quality Incentive Payment programs through 2022, which are designed to reduce avoidable high-cost hospital use and close Medicaid payment gaps. Crucial funding to the state's healthcare safety net has lapsed, risking access to care for the 5 million Medicaid enrollees in Texas and reducing hospitals' ability to address health disparities among vulnerable populations.
- Strengthened trauma, safety net and rural hospitals' ability to care for low-income and underserved people by increasing Medicaid reimbursement payments by $361 million.
Expanded the pipeline of healthcare workers
- Received state support to use temporary nurses and other staff to maintain care delivery during workforce shortages.
- Invested $19 million in the Professional Nursing Shortage Reduction Program and $199 million to expand graduate medical education to increase the number of registered nurses and first-year physician residents in Texas.
Improved access to behavioral and women's health services
- Advocated successfully to expand Texans' access to virtual and in-home behavioral healthcare services. We also effectively petitioned for state funding to build a behavioral health hospital in Dallas-Fort Worth, the state's largest metro area without one.
- Lifted restrictions on delivering behavioral health services via telehealth and improved access to emergency inpatient behavioral healthcare.
- Increased funding of the Healthy Texas Women, Family Planning, and Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening programs by $174 million.
- Increased funding for Medicaid client services to extend insurance coverage for postpartum moms from 60 days to six months following delivery.
Supported healthcare providers
- Obtained surprise medical billing protection regulations resulted in timely and reasonable reimbursement.
- Enabled the responsible sharing of substance use treatment records to facilitate treatment, payment and healthcare operations.
- Defended against harmful revisions to the Texas Advance Directives Act that hinder patients' autonomy and providers' expert medical judgment.
Snapshot: Growing the Clinical Workforce to Meet Texans' Healthcare Needs
Two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have strained hospital resources and capacity like never before, impacting caregivers at the bedside with burnout and fatigue. While healthcare workforce shortages existed long before the pandemic, staffing costs and other related challenges threaten hospitals' ability to care for patients.
Texas Health has been engaging lawmakers and advocating for innovative solutions to address clinical staffing challenges. Fortunately, the state invested $19 million in the Professional Nursing Shortage Reduction Program in 2021 to develop strategies that increase the number of registered nurses in Texas. Lawmakers also appropriated $199 million to expand graduate medical education to grow the number of first-year physician residency positions.
State funding is critical in helping the industry build a pipeline of workers to address the growing healthcare needs of the state’s rising, diverse population.