The most jam-packed week of committee testimony for THA thus far this session included not just talk, but action as well – as THA’s vehicle for addressing workplace violence passed out of committee, becoming the first THA bill of this session to clear that milestone.
The House Committee on Public Health voted out House Bill 112 by Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) on Tuesday, making the bill eligible for consideration by the full House. Like its companion, Senate Bill 240 by Sen. Donna Campbell, MD (R-New Braunfels), the bill requires all hospitals and health care facilities to maintain a workplace violence committee and implement annual individualized violence prevention training. It also prohibits retaliation against someone who reports a workplace violence incident.
Violence in hospitals has been a heightened concern since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a recent THA workforce survey revealing more than 60% of hospitals have seen an increase in violence severity since the pandemic began.
SB 240 itself was under examination on the other side of the Capitol, with THA Assistant General Counsel Heather De La Garza, J.D., testifying in support of the bill last Wednesday in front of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.
THA testified two other times during the week to oppose a pair of measures that pose problems as drafted:
- Senate Bill 1197 by Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), which would introduce new, monthly reporting burdens on hospitals related to their existing requirement to report suspected cases of child abuse to the state. Hospitals would be required to submit a monthly report containing the number of times it reported alleged or suspected child abuse, exploitation or neglect, as well as any code the hospital used for diagnosing or treating the alleged or suspected victim. A committee substitute for the bill adds another requirement: for each monthly report to contain attachments of signed affidavits from hospital agents/employees who made an alleged/suspected abuse report during that month. THA General Counsel Steve Wohleb, J.D. testified Wednesday in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee against the bill, noting hospitals’ lack of infrastructure in place to meet its proposed requirements.
- House Bill 1001 by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake), which would adjust the language of existing Consumer Choice health plan law and open the door for insurers to offer a larger number of cheap plans with potentially scant coverage. De La Garza told the House Select Committee on Health Care Reform on Thursday that as written, HB 1001 potentially erodes the gains Texas has made in ensuring quality comprehensive coverage is available to Texas citizens.” THA is working with Rep. Capriglione and hopes to arrive at language that would instead help further those gains.
Postpartum Coverage Extension Gets a Hearing
Also Thursday, THA registered its support on a measure that would extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for new mothers to one year instead of the current two months. House Bill 12 by Rep. Toni Rose (D-Dallas), a priority measure for House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), came up for hearing in the House Select Committee on Health Care Reform. THA is in staunch support of the coverage expansion, as Medicaid covers more than half of Texas births and more than a quarter of the state’s maternal deaths occur between 43 days and one year after delivery.
Trusting Hospitals on Vaccines
COVID-19 vaccine mandates – in hospitals and elsewhere – continue to be a hot topic at the Capitol, and THA continues to fight for hospitals’ right to take common-sense safety measures as the facility sees fit. THA’s newest white paper, COVID-19 Vaccinations: Trust Hospitals to Protect Their Unique Communities, debunks myths about the COVID-19 vaccine and explains why hospitals need to have the latitude to require it among their employees. You can download this white paper, and all of THA’s other recent explainers, on THA’s White Papers & Reports page.