Legislative Committee Hearings
Legislative committees continue to have hearings in the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate. Both of the committees I have been appointed to, the House Appropriations and Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committees, met this week. In the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee hearing, I had the opportunity to lay out HB 2709, which will require a County Clerk to fill out applications for court-ordered mental health services for individuals being assessed in an emergency room or hospital. The Texas Hospital Association provide testimony on the importance of the issue and the bill received no opposition.
In the Insurance Committee hearing this week two of my bills, HB 440 and 1110, were heard. HB 440 prohibits a health benefit plan from denying the full benefit of a claim for a hearing aid if the device is more than the benefit available, allowing individuals more freedom to choose their hearing aids. HB 1110 requires residential property insurers to make an initial payment of at least 80% of the estimated cost to repair or replace the damaged dwelling or personal property, minus the applicable deductible. I look forward to working with stakeholders on the two important bills and passing them out of committee in the coming weeks.
Bill Alert: Live Well Texas Program
I am proud to have authored HB 3871, the House (bipartisan) Live Well Texas Program, which would see that these Texans can access the physicians and healthcare facilities they need while also creating provider incentives to encourage participation. It is critical that the Texas Legislature takes the responsible step to help struggling families survive. Now is the time to pass HB 3871 and increase healthcare opportunities while generating significant revenue for Texas.
You can get involved by calling your state representative and asking them to support and coauthor the bill, telling your personal story during public testimony in the Committee on Human Services when the bill is set for a hearing, and spreading the word on social media.
Visitation Rules for Long-Term Care Facilities Update
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has expanded visitation statewide in nursing facilities and other long-term care settings. Per federal guidance issued March 10 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, fully vaccinated nursing facility residents are now allowed close, in-person visits with family members and friends who are not designated essential caregivers, as long as proper safeguards are in place. More information about specific visitation rules can be found here.
State-Run COVID-19 Mobile Testing Sites
The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), in partnership with the Texas Military Department, is continuing to run COVID-19 testing locations across the state. Texans can find a testing site near them by visiting the COVID-19 Test Collection Site map.
Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Locations
Texas Health and Human Services has created a map tracking the distribution of and locations providing COVID-19 vaccines. Texans can find providers near them in the coming months by visiting the COVID-19 Vaccine Availability map. A list of vaccine hub providers can be found here. Information about vaccination distribution and availability can also be found here. Information about the vaccine can be found here.
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Updates
This week, 25 counties will be participating in the second week of The Save Our Seniors program, not including in Dallas County. Beginning next Monday, Texas will open COVID-19 vaccine appointments to all adults. This will include individuals 16 and older, but only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for individuals that are 16 or 17. DSHS has directed vaccine providers to prioritize people 80 years old or older when scheduling appointments and accommodate anyone in that age group who presents for vaccination, whether or not they have an appointment, by immediately moving them to the front of the line. That will ensure vaccination of anyone 80 or older with as small a burden on themselves as possible.
Volunteer to Vaccinate in Dallas County
Dallas County is in need of additional volunteers at their Fair Park Community Vaccination Center. Volunteers must be 18 years or older. After 15 hours of volunteer service, volunteers are eligible for a vaccine. Information on volunteering and the signup can be found here.
Upcoming Election: May 1
The May 1, 2021 General & Special Election is coming up. If you have moved since the November election, you may have to update your voter registration. Make sure your registration is up to date here. For those eligible, Vote By Mail ballots can be requested here. Information on the upcoming election can be found here.Check with your county and city’s websites for information on candidates and ballot propositions.
Carrollton Trails 2021 5K Run: Registration Open
Registration is now open for the City of Carrollton’s ninth annual Carrollton Trails 5K to be held Saturday, April 24. The event also includes a 1-mile Fun Run/Walk, so bring the whole family. Dogs do not have to be registered to participate. With the public’s health and wellness top of mind, the race will be split into six different timeslots: 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., and 10:30 a.m. Masks and social distancing will be encouraged throughout the event to ensure participants and spectators remain safe. Items such as masks and hand sanitizer will be provided to participants and spectators. Additionally, food items will be pre-packaged. More information and registration can be found here.