AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - State lawmakers are working to get two health care bills passed that would expand TeleHealth, TeleMedicine and broadband access across the state of Texas.
House Bill (HB) 4 and House Bill 5 have passed through the House and are now pending in Senate committees. If the Senate passes both HB 4 and HB 5, the bills will then go to the Governor for his consideration.
HB 4 provides delivery of health care services under Medicaid and other public benefit programs by using telecommunication or information technology.
“Now we are extending the benefits to rural health clinics as well. So, whether you’re a rural health clinic, FQHC, a private provider, Medicaid, we really extended the benefits of TeleHealth and TeleMedicine through this bill and through bills we’ve previously passed,” said Rep. Four Price, (R) Texas.
HB 5 provides expansion of broadband services to certain areas.
“With expanded broadband across the entire state, we will see better use of the technology to access so many things that we do every single day; job training, commerce, education, health care, these are just a few of the things that we rely on, reliable internet access for really to conduct the business every single day,” said Price.
TeleHealth is also happening at TTUHSC and at Texas Tech Physicians in Amarillo.
The school finds in the wake of the urgency highlighted by COVID-19 pandemic, these tools have been helpful as they are striving to expand and evolve the accessibility of medical care.
Any physician or Texas licensed healthcare professional who sees patients under a program administered by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission would be able to use these tools.
“It just makes sense to make it as accessible as possible to Texans, make our providers capable of using it and get reimbursed for those services, and really in a pandemic it just makes all the sense in the world,” said Price.
HB 4 will be paid for by funds from Texas Health and Human Services from the upcoming biennial budget, SB 1 (87R).
SB 1 has been passed by the Senate and is scheduled for debate on the floor of the Texas House this Thursday.
HB 5 would be paid in part from SB 1.
“It’s every bit as important now, I think, as electrification was over 100 years ago. We are just moving more and more towards using the internet for so many things in our society, it makes sense for us to be on the forefront and make sure it’s accessible to Texans no matter where they live or what zip code they’re in,” said Price.
If the bills get to the Governor and he approves them, HB 4 would become law immediately and HB 5 would go into effect starting September 1, 2021.
“We’ve seen how effective it is, we’ve seen how it really increases ease of access for those who live in communities where maybe access to a healthcare provider is more difficult to come by. We’ve also seen it benefit folks who live in urban areas where, you know, it’s congested and you just don’t want to get out in the pandemic and be around a lot of people,” said Price.