Hogg Foundation Legislative Testimony for the 87th Legislature
Even with the many difficult budget decisions before the 87th Legislature, attention must still focus on building healthy communities and ensuring mental health and/or substance use services and supports are accessible to those who need them. Our Policy Unit recently submitted testimony to Senate and House Committees that offer a set of recommendations to address a variety of issues related to mental health and substance use. Click on the boxes below for more information.
ARTICLE II – Mental Health and Substance Use Priorities
This testimony to the Senate Finance Committee offers a set of recommendations to address several gaps in the Statewide Behavioral Health Strategic Plan. These include COVID-19’s impact on mental health/health equity; the mental health workforce shortage; the mental health needs of individuals with intellectual disabilities; and forensic mental health. A version of this testimony was also submitted to the House Appropriations Committee.
ARTICLE III – Texas Education Agency
This testimony to the Senate Finance Committee offers a set of recommendations to address Gap #2 identified in the Statewide Behavioral Health Strategic Plan, pertaining to the behavioral health needs of public school students. A version of this testimony was also submitted to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III.
House Bill 240 – Insurance Coverage of Severe Emotional Disturbance in Children
This testimony to the House Insurance Committee addresses the need to update the Texas Insurance Code to include a definition for serious emotional disturbance for children. This would help to ensure children’s access to mental health services is at parity with their coverage of physical health services.
House Bill 544 – Certification of Recovery Housing
Recovery housing is an important part of the larger continuum of care for individuals seeking and in recovery from substance use conditions. This testimony to the House Public Health Committee provides comment on House Bill 544, which establishes a voluntary recovery housing certification program based on national standards.
House Bill 705 – Recovery Community Organizations
Recovery Community Organizations (RCOs) are peer-run and peer-involved organizations that mobilize resources to help individuals, families, and communities with substance use concerns. This testimony to the House Human Services Committee concerns House Bill 705, which builds on previous legislation to include RCOs as a new Medicaid provider type for the provision of peer services.
House Bill 887 – Telehealth and Telemedicine Services
The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health has long supported the need to promote equity in service delivery and payment and supports the advancement of telehealth, especially for mental health and substance use services. This testimony, given to the House Insurance Committee, provides comment on House Bill 887, often referred to as the telehealth parity bill.
House Bill 1016 – Active Shooter Drills
House Bill 1016 addresses the current lack of uniformity and guidance around active shooter drills in Texas. This testimony to the House Public Education Committee addresses the need to balance school safety measures with the emotional well-being of children, teachers and communities.
House Bill 1114 – School Based Health Centers and Mental Health
This testimony to the House Finance Committee provides comment on House Bill 1114, which would allow School Based Health Centers (SBHCs) to deliver mental health services and education. SBHCs are facilities “providing preventive and primary health care services to children and adolescents conveniently located on or near a school campus.”
House Bill 1694 – Good Samaritan Law
There is mounting evidence pointing to a continued and exacerbated substance use and overdose epidemic as a result of COVID-19. Texas has seen a 21.8 percent increase in overdose deaths and is one of 13 states that saw an over 50 percent increase in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids. This testimony to the House Public Health Committee offers recommendations for robust Good Samaritan protections, policies that provide legal protections for individuals who call for emergency assistance (such as 911) in the event of a drug overdose.
House Bill 2287 – Collaborative Task Force on Public School Mental Health Services
HB 2287 recognizes the importance of providing alternatives to punitive discipline and the collection of classroom removal data so that we can better understand the relationship between student mental health and school discipline in Texas. This testimony to the House Public Education Committee addresses the need for better data collection so that Texas can create systems and support strategies that provide all students with what they need to be engaged learners.
House Bill 2612 - Telehealth and Telemedicine Payment Parity
This testimony to the House Public Health Committee provides comment on House Bill 2612, and addresses the need for insurance payment parity for telehealth services.
House Bill 3075 - Jail Diversion for Mental Health
Police officers are often the first to respond to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. This testimony to the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee provides analysis of HB 3075, and addresses the need for enhanced data collection from Texas law enforcement agencies that examines interactions between officers and people with mental health conditions, substance use conditions, and/or IDD.
House Bill 3088 – County Mental Health Grant Services
Many rural communities in Texas are hesitant to apply to the Health and Human Services Commission’s (HHSC) grant programs due to high matching percentage costs. This testimony to the House Public Health Committee concerning House Bill 3088 helps build the case for lowering match thresholds in order to enable communities to more affordably fund mental health initiatives.
House Bill 3485 – School Discipline Response Data
Despite the lack of evidence that exclusionary discipline is an effective method of changing students’ behavior in schools, it is often used. This testimony to the House Public Education Committee addresses the crucial role that data collection plays in helping to understand the relationship between classroom removals, racial disparities, and health equity..
Senate Bill 1646 – Transgender Youth Services
Senate Bill 1827 – Opioid Abatement Account
SB 1827 creates an opioid abatement account that ensures dollars awarded to Texas as a result of lawsuits against opioid manufacturers are directed to state agencies that address substance use. This testimony to the Senate Finance Committee addresses the need for funds awarded from the lawsuit to be used toward a full continuum of care supporting individuals and communities devastated by opioids.