Texas Health and Human Services Digest: October 26, 2020

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Texas Health and Human Services Digest: October 26, 2020

From HHSC: While every effort has been made to offer an accurate and current listing of meeting agendas and events on this calendar, the information has been compiled from a variety of sources and is subject to change without notice to the user.

October 27, 2020

October 28, 2020

October 29, 2020

October 30, 2020

November 2, 2020

November 3, 2020

November 4, 2020

November 5, 2020

November 6, 2020

November 10, 2020

November 13, 2020

November 18, 2020

November 19, 2020

Proposed Rules
Formal Comments via the Texas Register
To let the public know about a rulemaking action – such as new, amended or repealed rules – HHS publishes a notice in the Texas Register, a publication of the Texas Secretary of State. Interested parties then can review and comment on the proposed rule. The Secretary of State publishes a new issue of the Texas Register each Friday.

The Administrative Procedure Act (Texas Government Code, Chapter 2001) requires the notice published in the Texas Register to include a brief explanation of the proposed rule and a request for comments from any interested person. The notice also includes instructions for submitting comments regarding the rule to the agency, including the date by which comments must be submitted. Agencies must give interested persons “a reasonable opportunity” to submit comments. The public comment period begins on the day after the notice of a proposed rule is published in the Texas Register and lasts for a minimum of 30 calendar days.

Below is a list of proposed rules that have been published in the Texas Register. The proposed rules that are published in the Texas Register are open for public comment until the end of the comment period.

TitleProject No., DescriptionContactComment End Date
Repeal of Title 1, Chapter 383, Interstate Compact on Mental Health and Mental Retardation#19R065: Interstate Compact CoordinationHHS Health and Specialty Care11/16/20
New Title 26, Chapter 903, Interstate Compact on Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities#19R065: Interstate Compact CoordinationHHS Health and Specialty Care11/16/20
Title 1, Chapter 354, Subchapter A, Division 1, Section 354.1003, Time Limits for Submitted Claims#20R006: Claims Payment Deadlines ExceptionsHHS Rules Coordination Office11/16/20
Title 25, Chapter 40, Subchapter D, concerning Maintenance and Administration of Asthma Medication#20R019: Asthma MedicationDSHS School Health Program11/16/20
Title 25, Chapter 40, Subchapters B and C, concerning Epinephrine Auto-Injector Policies in Certain Entities and Youth Facilities#20R018: Epinephrine Policies in Certain Entities and Youth FacilitiesDSHS School Health Program11/16/20
Title 26, Chapter 302, Subchapter A, Mental Health First Aid#20R050: Mental Health Prevention Standards UpdatesHHS Rules Coordination Office10/26/20
Title 26, Chapter 307, Subchapter D, Outpatient Competency Restoration#18R054: Outpatient Competency RestorationHHS Rules Coordination Office10/26/20
Title 26, Chapter 306, Subchapter D, Division 1, Section 306.204, Discharge of an Individual Involuntarily Receiving Treatment#20R043: Discharge and Furlough MedicationHHS Rules Coordination Office10/26/20

Draft Rules Informal Comments

Informal opportunities to comment occur before a rule is published in the Texas Register. HHS staff may solicit informal public and stakeholder input by:

  • inviting stakeholders to submit comments on potential rule changes during rule development.
  • sharing a draft rule with stakeholders for review.
  • using existing HHS advisory committees to comment on rules.

The following are draft rules on which HHS is accepting informal public or stakeholder input. All rules are posted in MS Word format unless otherwise noted.

TitleProject No.ContactComment Start DateComment End Date
Title 26, Chapter 749, Minimum Standards for Child-Placing Agencies, concerning Legislative changes#20R101HHS Child Care Regulation10/19/2011/2/20

Preview 2021 Plans and Prices on HealthCare.gov Ahead of the Upcoming Federal Health Insurance Exchange Open Enrollment PeriodThe Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that starting today consumers can preview 2021 healthcare plans and prices on HealthCare.gov. This is an opportunity for consumers to compare coverage options ahead of Open Enrollment for the Federal Health Insurance Exchange, which officially kicks-off on November 1. As in previous years, window shopping allows consumers and those assisting consumers, such as licensed brokers and Navigators, to browse plans without logging in, creating an account, or filling out the official application.

There are many good reasons for consumers to compare plans, including lower premiums and more plan options. Last week, CMS released a report showing the third consecutive year of improving market conditions under the Trump Administration’s new policies. Three years of declining average second lowest cost silver plan (benchmark plan) premiums have combined to deliver an 8% premium reduction across HealthCare.gov since the 2018 coverage year. Many consumers coming to HealthCare.gov will also find they have more options given that issuer participation has also increased for the third year in a row. The percentage of HealthCare.gov enrollees with access to only one issuer is decreasing from 29% in 2018 to 4% in 2021 and more than three quarters of HealthCare.gov enrollees will have access to at least three issuers in 2021.

As we get ready for Open Enrollment, CMS has updated and improved the HealthCare.gov experience by incorporating integrated help and enhanced resources. These updates provide content that guides consumers and enables enrollees to easily access and understand information they may need to make informed choices about coverage. HealthCare.gov also added a new planning resource for consumers to estimate their yearly income. CMS will continue to enhance the application, enrollment, and educational support based on consumer feedback.

The number of licensed agents and brokers registered with the Exchange has increased this year. There are nearly 5,300 new agents and brokers signed up to help consumers during the 2021 Open Enrollment Period and nearly 37,000 who previously registered with the Exchange who are returning this year. Through the Enhanced Direct Enrollment (EDE) pathway, consumers have the option to apply for and enroll in an Exchange plan directly through an approved issuer or web-broker, without the need to be redirected to HealthCare.gov or to contact the Exchange Call Center—providing more avenues for consumers to apply for and enroll in Exchange coverage.

Starting November 1, consumers can log in to HealthCare.gov and CuidadodeSalud.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 to fill out an application and enroll in a 2021 Exchange health plan. The Federal Health Insurance Exchange 2021 Open Enrollment Period is November 1, 2020 to December 15, 2020, with coverage beginning on January 1, 2021.
To view the 2021 Plan Landscape Data, visit: https://www.healthcare.gov/health-and-dental-plan-datasets-for-researchers-and-issuers/

To view the 2021 Health Insurance Exchange Premium Landscape Issue Brief, visit:   https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/DataResources/Downloads/2021QHPPremiumsChoiceReport.pdf

To see the 2021 Health Insurance Exchange Public Use Files, visit: https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Data-Resources/marketplace-puf

To see the Plan Year 2021 Quality Rating System Public Use Files, visit:  https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-Instruments/QualityInitiativesGenInfo/ACA-MQI/Quality-Rating-System/QRS-General-Data-Collection

Plant Compound Reduces Cognitive Deficits in Mouse Model of Down Syndrome. The plant compound apigenin improved the cognitive and memory deficits usually seen in a mouse model of Down syndrome, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions. Apigenin is found in chamomile flowers, parsley, celery, peppermint and citrus fruits. The researchers fed the compound to pregnant mice carrying fetuses with Down syndrome characteristics and then to the animals after they were born and as they matured. The findings raise the possibility that a treatment to lessen the cognitive deficits seen in Down syndrome could one day be offered to pregnant women whose fetuses have been diagnosed with Down syndrome through prenatal testing. The study appears in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Down syndrome is a set of symptoms resulting from an extra copy or piece of chromosome 21. The intellectual and developmental disabilities accompanying the condition are believed to result from decreased brain growth caused by increased inflammation in the fetal brain. Apigenin is not known to have any toxic effects, and previous studies have indicated that it is an antioxidant that reduces inflammation. Unlike many compounds, it is absorbed through the placenta and the blood brain barrier, the cellular layer that prevents potentially harmful substances from entering the brain. Compared to mice with Down symptoms whose mothers were not fed apigenin, those exposed to the compound showed improvements in tests of developmental milestones and had improvements in spatial and olfactory memory. Tests of gene activity and protein levels showed the apigenin-treated mice had less inflammation and increased blood vessel and nervous system growth.

Read the full release.

Governor Abbott Requests to Use William Beaumont Army Medical Center for Non-COVID Patients in El Paso. Governor Greg Abbott today held a call with Dr. Robert Kadlec, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), to discuss hospital capacity needs in the City of El Paso. A readout of the call can be found below:

The Governor and Dr. Kadlec discussed the need to expand hospital capacity in El Paso given the recent surge in positive cases and hospitalizations in the area.  Governor Abbott asked Dr. Kadlec to authorize the use of the William Beaumont Army Medical Center on Fort Bliss to house non-COVID patients to free up beds in El Paso-area hospitals for COVID patients. The Governor also detailed the additional steps the State of Texas is taking to contain the spread and expand hospital capacity in the region. The Governor concluded the call by thanking Dr. Kadlec for his leadership and guidance.

Governor Greg Abbott Appoints Four to State Independent Living Council. Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Melva Henderson, Debra Medellin, and Bonnie Notargiacomo and reappointed April Pollreisz to the State Independent Living Council for terms set to expire on October 24, 2023. The council develops the State Plan for Independent Living and serves as a resource to state and local organizations on Independent Living and related issues for persons with disabilities.

Melva Henderson of Dallas is a prospect research associate at Envision Dallas. Henderson received a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Texas Woman’s University and a Master of Arts in Social Work from Texas A&M University Commerce.

Debra Medellin of Alice is a compliance analyst at Texas Department of Transportation, Civil Rights Division. Medellin received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from The University of Texas at Austin.

Bonnie Notargiacomo of Mission is a program specialist for the Older Individual Blind Program at Texas Workforce Commission, and has over 25 years of experience working with people with disabilities. Notargiacomo received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The University of Texas at Brownsville and a Master of Arts in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from The University of Texas Pan American.

April Pollreisz of Amarillo is a former customer service professional in the insurance industry. She is a current board member of the Panhandle Independent Living Center. Pollreisz received a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from West Texas A&M University.

Academic Research. CPRIT has updated requirements in the following posted Academic Research RFAs:

  • Recruitment of Established Investigators (RFA R-21.1-REI)
  • Recruitment of Rising Stars (RFA R-21.1 RRS)

The revised RFA requirements are available in the Apply for Funding section of CPRIT’s website.

GL 20-1014 Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA). GL 20-1014 regarding the adoption of rules related to the Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) has been posted. These rules authorize certain hospitals to apply for a COPA, which grants merging hospitals immunity from federal and state antitrust laws.

These rules, effective October 25, 2020, replace previously adopted emergency rules in Texas Administrative Code Title 26 (26 TAC), Chapter 567.

Please read the letter at the link below and if you have questions contact HCR_PRT@hhs.texas.gov

See https://hhs.texas.gov/doing-business-hhs/provider-portals/health-care-facilities-regulation