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Senate Committee on State Affairs - 79th R.S. (2005)

Committee Members
Robert Duncan, Chair
Tommy Williams, Vice Chair
Ken Armbrister
Rodney Ellis
Troy Fraser
Chris Harris
Mike Jackson
Eddie Lucio
Frank Madla
• Study the Employees Retirement System of Texas ("ERS") including the actuarial soundness of the ERS pension fund; the implementation of cost-saving measures in the ERS group health insurance plan; the suggestion of further cost-saving measures such as the implementation of a 3-tiered provider network; the effectiveness of the third party administrator of the ERS group health insurance plan in managing inflation; and the feasibility of consolidating the administration of all state group health plans under a single state agency.
• Study the Teachers Retirement System of Texas ("TRS") including the actuarial soundness of the TRS pension fund; the implementation of cost-saving measures in the TRS group health insurance plan; the suggestion of further cost-saving measures such as the implementation of a 3-tiered provider network; the implementation of SB 1370, 79th Legislature, Regular Session; the effectiveness of the third party administrator of the TRS group health insurance plan in managing inflation; and the feasibility of consolidating the administration of all state group health plans under a single state agency
• Study and make recommendations on how election officials could verify the identity of a voter without hindering a person's right to vote. Include an analysis of the extent to which individuals are casting multiple votes because of any lack of voter identification verification. Make recommendations on how the state could improve its vote-by-mail system to ensure the authenticity of those ballots.
• Monitor the implementation of HB 7, 79th Legislature, Regular Session, relating to the workers compensation system of this state.
• Study the regulation and management of health care plans, including the following:
  • Study the reimbursement methodology of health care plans for out-of-network claims, the adequacy of health plan networks to provide appropriate coverage, the impact of out-of-network balance billing by physicians and health care providers and the accurate disclosure of patients' out-of-pocket costs.
  • Study the discounting and/or waiving of co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance by physicians and health care providers. Specifically, how this practice can impact the cost to private and public health plans and the impact to acute, multi-service hospitals, including safety net hospitals.
  • Evaluate health care cost transparency by health care providers and access to that information by patients.
  • Review data reported to the Texas Department of Insurance by health care plans, investigate possible expansion of health plans' reportable data, including, but not limited to, administrative costs, and what, if any, is the appropriate release and publication of that information.
• Study and review current law on the doctrine of eminent domain, including the U.S. Supreme Court case in Kelo v. City of New London. Monitor the implementation of SB 7, 79th Legislature, 2nd Called Session, and make any necessary recommendations as to the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes and the issue of what constitutes adequate compensation for property taken through the use of eminent domain.
  • Determine whether a constitutional amendment is prudent and/or necessary to protect private property owners from condemnations for economic development purposes.
  • Determine which state, regional, and local governmental entities have eminent domain powers and how those powers may be used. Make recommendations regarding their necessity, fairness, and effectiveness.
  • Study the public policy implications relating to Chapter 2007, Government Code, Private Real Property Rights Preservation Act, its effectiveness in protecting private property rights, and the current impact of regulatory takings on private property owners.
• Study the costs associated with mandates to insurance companies for increased coverage for specific illnesses, medical conditions, or diseases, including obesity. Provide a cost assessment of the impact of such mandates to the state and local units of government. Include data and analysis of the costs and medical impact associated with insurance mandates which have been enacted in other states, as well as any short- and long-term cost-savings. Develop recommendations on how to provide increased cost-effective coverage, especially to populations with impairments and diseases, as well as the underinsured/uninsured.
• Study the prevalence, legality and ethics of entities that actively lobby the Legislature to impact the lawmaking process while that entity is in any way a recipient of state funds.
• Study and make recommendations regarding the cost drivers of emergency medical services. Make recommendations on how to improve and sustain EMS services for Texas, as well as reduce costs to health care plans, businesses, and individuals.
• Study and review current Texas law on the doctrine of statutory employer, including the 2004 First District Court of Appeals' decision in Etie v. Walsh & Albert Co. and make recommendations of changes in state laws, if necessary, regarding the doctrine of statutory employer and indemnification in construction contracts. Study the current use of Consolidated Insurance Programs and make legislative recommendations, if appropriate.
• Assess the benefit of limiting the civil liability for noneconomic damages against non-profit organizations involved in the privatization of child welfare services.
• Examine and make recommendations, if necessary, regarding the state's role in regulating pharmacy benefit managers in the interest of consumer protection. Examine alternative methods of dispensing maintenance drugs, including mail service and retail pharmacies, and provide an analysis of the state's role in protecting consumers. Joint Charge with Health and Human Services Committee
• Study how to reduce dependence on Medicaid for the provision of long term care by increasing use of long-term care insurance and health savings accounts. Include a study of options for increasing the use of advance planning tools, such as health care power of attorney and living wills, to ensure more effective decision-making regarding critical end-of-life and other health care decisions. Finally, study the feasibility of implementing innovative models of nursing facility services that encourage autonomy, choice and dignity of residents. Joint Charge with Health and Human Services Committee.
• Study the current laws/policies relating to forensic patients in our State Hospitals and Community Mental Health Organizations. Include analysis of and recommendations relating to pre- and post-trial forensic patients, competency laws and procedures, current treatment policies and guidelines, cost and placement considerations for creating specialty units for forensic patients, judicial discretion and medical best practices. Joint Charge with Health and Human Services Committee.

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