Committee To Examine Services For Women, Texans With Mental Health Issues

December 20, 2013

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee, led by Senator Jane Nelson, will conduct a review of Texas' women's health programs and examine services for Texans struggling with mental illness as part of interim assignments announced today by the Lieutenant Governor. The announcement comes after the Legislature approved historic budget increases for women's health and mental health.


"We are on a mission to connect more Texas women than ever before to cancer screenings, wellness exams, and other important health services. Our committee will work to ensure that we are reaching women in rural and underserved areas; continuing to grow our provider network; and strengthening family planning," said Senator Nelson, who served as chair of the Senate Finance Committee Workgroup on the health and human services budget.


As part of its review, the committee will monitor the effort to extend women's health and family planning services to an additional 170,000 women per year through a $100 million increase in funding approved in the last legislative session. Overall, the Legislature allocated $215 million this session among the three main programs that support women's health: the Texas Women's Health Program, the Primary Health Care program, and the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Family Planning Program.


On mental health, legislators approved a $298 million increase in mental health funding and policy changes including Senator Nelson's SB 58, which will increase efficiency and improve outcomes for mental health services in Medicaid. 


"Not only must our mental health services be delivered in appropriate settings to ease the burden on our jails and emergency rooms, we need to look for better ways to manage each patient's mental health needs in ways that focus on long-term recovery," Senator Nelson said.
To date, the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services has been assigned interim charges on women's health; mental health; and programs serving foster children and children impacted by abuse and neglect. After completing its review, the committee will release a report with recommendations prior to the next legislative session in January 2015.