Providing a Unified Voice
Government Affairs and Advocacy provides a unified voice for Texas Health at the federal, state and local levels of government by:
- Assessing the impact of potential legislative and regulatory changes on Texas Health and the communities we serve.
- Engaging our leaders, employees, clinicians, trustees and community associates in developing and advancing Texas Health's federal and state public policy priorities.
- Conducting hospital site visits and coordinating advocacy events with policymakers.
- Employing multiple communication channels to lead and facilitate strategic policy initiatives.
- Enhancing community affiliations and collaboration with key elected officials/staff and community, business and industry stakeholders to support Texas Health's federal and state public policy agenda.
Texas Health must remain financially viable to achieve our mission of improving the health of the people in the communities we serve. This has become increasingly more difficult as we manage the aftermath of the century’s most significant public health crisis. Regardless, Texas Health will continue to inspire change in how people think about their health and well-being by advocating for bipartisan, collaborative approaches that build a foundation for sound healthcare public policy.
Historically high inflation, persistent workforce shortages, fatigue and burnout, fragile supply chains and repeated COVID-19 surges strained our finances and complicated access to patient care. Despite these challenges, Texas Health successfully advocated for legislation, regulations and policies that:
Strengthened the healthcare workforce
- Supported 200 additional Medicare-funded Graduate Medical Education residency slots beginning in 2026.
- Extended the Conrad 30 Program, which allows foreign-born physicians to work in federally designated shortage and underserved areas until September 2023.
- Endorsed a new exception to the Stark Law that enables hospitals to provide physicians with evidence-based programs that help improve their mental health and resiliency and prevent suicide.
- Reauthorized the Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program, which reimburses education expenses for infectious disease and emergency preparedness professionals.
- Authorized the Health Resources and Services Administration to increase educational opportunities for physical, occupational and respiratory therapists.
- Supported the investigation and oversight of anticompetitive behavior from nurse-staffing agencies during the pandemic that exacerbated workforce shortages.
- Supported passage of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, which included a $280 million investment in nursing development and sought to reduce suicide and burnout.
Promoted financial resiliency and stability
- Prevented $38 billion in Medicare cuts from taking effect in January 2023.
- Provided partial relief for Medicare physician reimbursement rate cuts from 4.5% to 2% for 2023 and approximately 3% for 2024.
- Promoted efforts to sustain payments for telehealth services rendered during the pandemic.
- Protected the 340B drug savings program to help give under-resourced communities access to more affordable drug therapies.
Improved access to behavioral and women's health services
- Supported requiring state Medicaid programs to provide 12 months of continuous coverage for children and permanently allow states to offer 12 months of coverage for postpartum women.
- Advocated for federal funding that addresses mental illness, substance use disorders and crisis response, including specific grant funding for pediatric, maternal and veterans’ mental health.
Protected consumers’ access to care and coverage
- Supported the two-year extension of critical rural Medicare programs, telehealth flexibilities and the Acute Hospital Care at Home program.
- Expanded telehealth services for occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology and audiology.
- Extended access to mental health services furnished through telehealth as well as coverage and payment of audio-only telehealth services.
- Extended the ability to use telehealth to meet the face-to-face recertification requirement for hospice care.
- Urged the successful passage of the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act, which streamlines prior authorization requirements and makes it easier for seniors to get the care they need through Medicare Advantage plans.
Enhanced quality, patient safety, affordability and equity
- Supported funding for Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health to accelerate the development of scientific breakthroughs for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer.
- Enhanced care coordination and improved patient safety through successful revisions to the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records regulations to align with HIPAA’s treatment, payment and operation protections. This alignment gives providers access to patient information that helps accurately diagnose, treat and prevent addiction and other opioid-related disorders.
- Enabled patients to access cost estimates to avoid billing confusion and duplication of services.
- Promoted efforts to protect healthcare services, data and patients from cyberattacks while supporting regulatory relief for providers with cybersecurity protocols in place.
For more than 25 years, the 340B Drug Savings Program has provided financial help to eligible hospitals serving under-resourced communities to manage rising prescription drug costs.
The program, which enjoys strong bipartisan support, requires drug companies to sell certain outpatient drugs at the same discount to eligible hospitals that they sell to the government. It is funded by drug company discounts, not federal dollars. In an era of skyrocketing drug prices, 340B has been critical to providing lifesaving prescription drugs to those who may be unable to afford them.
To secure program eligibility for Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, Texas Health’s Government Affairs & Advocacy and Pharmacy departments worked with Tarrant and Dallas County Commissioners Courts to facilitate 340B approval.
Through these new designations, Texas Health Fort Worth will save an estimated $1.2 million to $2 million, Texas Health Arlington Memorial will save roughly $500,000, and Texas Health Dallas will save $1.2 million to $1.7 million. These annual savings will allow the hospitals to expand access to comprehensive primary care and promote health equity in their communities.