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Relating to the creation of the Texas Mental and Behavioral Health Research Institute.
Depending on the amount of funding distributed by the Texas Mental and Behavioral Health
Research Institute, there would be some fiscal impact to the state.
HB 10 would establish the Texas Behavioral Health Research Institute to address child and adolescent behavioral health needs. This institution would be comprised of health-related institutions of higher education (HRIs), the Health and Human Services Commission, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, nonprofit organizations, and any other necessary entity. The institution would be tasked with leveraging the expertise and capacity of certain health-related higher education institutions to address urgent mental health challenges and improve the mental health care system in Texas; enhancing the state's ability to address mental health needs through collaboration of the higher education institutions; and creating best practices, leadership, and vision for addressing child and adolescent behavioral health needs and providing funding for researching behavioral health issues.
The bill would provide that the institute is administratively attached to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and is funded solely by money appropriated to THECB for the purposes of the institute.
Finally, this bill would require the executive committee to establish a mental health and substance use disorder research program to provide funding to member institutions for a range of activities relating to researching, preventing, and treating conditions related to mental health and substance use. The executive committee would be prohibited from funding certain research that uses hallucinogenic drugs or shock therapy. Mental health services would be prohibited unless the child's parent or legal guardian first provides informed, written consent. The institute would be required to ensure that research and evaluations are conducted in a manner that complies with state and federal privacy laws, including laws related to patient confidentiality.
Texas Action does not support HB 10 based on the infringement of limited government by the creation of an institute that is outside of the core functions of state government.
Much of what this legislation proposes may already be done, and in fact is currently being done, under existing authority. The TWITR Project of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is an example of a successful program currently in operation. The TWITR Project has used mental health screenings through telemedicine to provide psychiatric help to hundreds of children throughout the ten school districts it serves. It is notable that this program was implemented with a grant of only $565,000.
We also recognize that investing in preventative measures may lead to lower government spending in the future, including the cost of health care, special education, juvenile justice services, and decreased productivity. However, these potential savings remain speculative. Only time will tell whether the speculative savings materialize to offset the cost of the program.