Texas legislators sent several bills to the governor focusing on seniors and the long-term care industry.
“The Legislature deserves recognition for advancing the well-being of older Texans and for making progress on certain issues that affect consumers of all ages,” said Bob Jackson, director of AARP Texas, which backed the bills.
Lawmakers approved the bills in the final hours of the 2017 Texas regular legislative session to strengthen nursing home oversight and accountability, expand rights for unpaid family caregivers and improve access to medical providers through technology.
- SB 1: The new state budget includes funding for the Lifespan Respite Care Program, which makes available respite services for family members who care for a person of any age with a chronic health condition or disability. It also includes funding for new guardian oversight programs.
- SB 667: The bill expands a pilot project to regulate guardianship program for people who are incapable of managing personal decisions and property. Similar guardianship bills include SB 39, SB 40 and SB 1193.
- SB 1107: Allows patients to meet with physicians through telehealth or telemedicine.
- HB 2025: The House bill revises the state’s “Right to Correct” law to make it more difficult for serious nursing home violations to be ignored—and allows the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to substantially change how nursing homes are penalized. The bill also provides for training and funding for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia caregivers.
- HB 3276: Requires freestanding emergency rooms and neighborhood emergency clinics to disclose which health benefit plan’s provider network it’s in and if it isn't a participating provider in any such network.
- HB 3921: Gives banks and securities firms new tools to place a temporary hold on suspicious transactions to protect seniors against financial exploitation.
- HB 2425: The Caregiver, Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act ensures family caregivers are offered instruction to provided needed care when loved ones transition home from the hospital.
Gov. Greg Abbott already signed SB 507 into law. Effective Sept. 1, the law will expand a successful but not widely used state medication mediation process to protect patients from surprise bills. Medical providers and insurers must clearly explain patients’ rights and how they can seek mediation for bills exceeding $500.