~Part of Responsibilities Assigned by Speaker of the House~
AUSTIN--State Representative Richard Peña Raymond, Chairman of the House Committee on Human Services, announced that he will begin hearings on the first of four interim charges assigned to him by Speaker of the House Joe Straus.
"As chair of the Human Services Committee, Representative Raymond guided important legislation last session to improve the quality of child care and protect seniors from abuse and neglect," Speaker Straus said. "Over the upcoming interim, he and members of the committee will explore ways to improve access to healthy food across the state and help older Texans age at home and remain active in their communities. I appreciate his leadership of the committee and look forward to their final recommendations next December."
Chairman Raymond will conduct the committee's first hearing in Austin on Nov. 28, 2011. The hearing will focus on the implementation of a Medicaid Managed Care Health System in South Texas by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), the transition of the Medicaid prescription drug benefit program to managed care and on ways to increase transparency, accountability and efficiency in agencies that fall under the committee's oversight.
The Human Services Committee has oversight of the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), which has a $66 billion, two-year budget. The Department of Aging and Disability Services, the Department of Family and Protective Services and the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services also fall under the committee's oversight.
Earlier this year, legislation was enacted that will establish a new managed care system in South Texas by March 1, 2012. "I did not support a managed care model for South Texas, but I will do all I can to make sure it is the best system possible," said Chairman Raymond. "My charge as chairman is to 'monitor the implementation' of this new system -- and I plan to do so. I've always believed the public should have the opportunity to be partners with elected representatives, so we can continue to make all of Texas a better place to live."
Advocates of the proposed system believe it will save the state millions of dollars, but opponents have argued that it will be a complicated HMO model more aimed at denying health care than providing it.
"I want to thank Commissioner Tom Suehs for all he has done so far. I am absolutely convinced that his goal is to make this a first-rate system for the delivery of health care services," said Chairman Raymond.
Beginning the hearings now will allow stakeholders to continue giving input and for the Health and Human Services Commission to make sure the new Medicaid Managed Care System in South Texas makes adjustments as necessary, Chairman Raymond added.
The Human Services Committee has also been charged during the interim with exploring strategies to support the needs of aging Texans, including a review of nursing homes; monitoring the redesign of the Foster Care System; and identifying policies to incentivize the consumption of healthy foods within food assistance programs. Future hearings will be held to address all of these issues.
"Health care and the well being of our citizens -- especially the young and seniors -- will always be one of the most important issues we face. I am honored to Chair the Human Services Committee, which has a great impact on these issues. I appreciate the confidence of the Speaker, and accept these charges with enthusiasm," stated Chairman Raymond.
Chairman Raymond said he anticipates drafting and filing legislation next session based on the committee's findings over the next 12 months.
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