Improving Health and Human Services

The budget passed by lawmakers this year provides substantial investments in programs and services for some of our most vulnerable Texans and contains significant funding for women's health, mental health, and our hospital system.

During the 84th Legislative Session, I was honored to be appointed to the House Committee on Appropriations. As a member of this committee, I served on the Article II Health and Human Services Subcommittee and worked directly on the Department of State Health Services budget, which included funding for women's health services and mental health services. I was named a budget conferee for the conference committee for the 2016-2017 budget (House Bill 1). A conference committee is appointed to reconcile the differences between the two chambers (the House and the Senate), in this case the budget. If the conference committee report is acceptable to both chambers, the bill is enrolled, signed by both presiding officers in the presence of their respective chambers, and sent to the Governor.  Specifically, I negotiated state and federal spending for all health and human service priorities with the Senate.

Article II of the budget, Health and Human Services, which represents the funding of numerous agencies and programs, provides substantial investments in programs and services for some of our most vulnerable Texans. The budget contains significant funding for women's health, mental health, and our hospital system.

Caseload growth for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and foster care were fully funded.

There is an increase above 2014-2015 levels of funding for mental health and substance abuse services for adults and children throughout the state. This will provide services for an additional 4,671 individuals per year at local mental health authorities and address the waiting lists. An increase in inpatient beds, an additional two new crisis facilities, and enhanced crisis facility projects at 20 local mental health authorities will help to increase services to individuals most in need in Texas. It was truly a historic session for improving mental health services in Texas.

In an effort to fortify the state's hospital system the budget provides for more than $515 million additional funding for trauma and safety net hospitals and $58.1 million for rural hospitals.

Also, women's health services are funded at $260.8 million for the biennium, which includes $50 million over 2014-2015 funding levels. This funding will help serve an estimated 347,416 women in fiscal year 2016 and 357,132 women in fiscal year 2017. The women's health programs additionally have been consolidated into one agency to better streamline the services provided and allow for better coordination between programs.