2021 Legislative & Annual Report: Access to Care

Dental

Four people sit around a cafeteria table, one in a power chair. All turn or lean in to smile at the camera.For the past several sessions, CTD's Dennis Borel has worked on legislation to add a preventative dental benefit for adults with disabilities. In 2017, we got a study; in 2019, a pilot to look at comprehensive dental care; and this year, preventative dental reached the finish line (left, Dennis and CTD's Susie Angel with major partners on the dental bill, Texas Health Institute's Ken Smith and Texas Advocates' Brooke Hohfeld after a hearing).
 

FTwo men in suits with face masks stand with hands clasped in front of tall frosted glass doors .rom February to May, language about a preventative benefit passed through quite a few different bills, finally landing in two Medicaid omnibus bills, HB 2658 (Frank) and SB 1648 (Perry) (right, Dennis with Ken Smith in front of the Senate chamber, where SB 1648 finally passed). The important take away is that, this fall, the state will prepare for the provision for a preventative visit to the dentist each year for adults in STAR+PLUS non-HCBS.

In additional, legislators funded a comprehensive dental pilot program, which they passed in 2019.

In addition to this hard-fought win, HB 2056 (Klick) has made tele-dentistry available on a permanent basis. This will extend the reach of preventative dental services to Texans with disabilities (and many others) who may have delayed dental visits because of difficulty leaving the home, barriers reaching or at dentists’ offices, or no available dentist nearby.

Medicaid

As in sessions past, CTD supported the Cover Texas Now and Sick of It Texas coalitions to address Texas' dismal record of health insurance for its citizens. In 2021, efforts to increase healthcare coverage among Texans got unprecedented momentum, but, even with bipartisan support, a bill failed to pass. While we wait for another chance to push for coverage for more Texans, these successful bills will allow better access now:

Caregiver Visitation

SB 25 / SJR 19 (Kolkhorst) and HB 2211 (Metcalf) address visitation in care facilities and hospitals by essential caregivers. CTD had been contacted by several of our members who were unable to visit family members with disabilities during the pandemic. Often, family members are an informal part of the care team. These bills responsibly permit positive visits while ensuring precautions.

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