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The bill would add Chapter 118 to Subtitle E, Title 2, of the Health and Safety Code to establish the Texas Health Improvement Network (THIN) that would be administratively attached to The University of Texas System. The network would be composed of faculty of general academic and health-related public and private institutions of higher education in Texas with expertise in the following fields: general public health and other medical fields; mental health; nursing; pharmacy; social work; health economics; health policy and law; epidemiology; biostatistics; health informatics; health services research; engineering; and computer science.
The primary goals of the network would include: evaluating and eliminating health disparities, including racial, ethnic, geographic, and income-related or education-related disparities; and conducting health care cost containment and economic analysis of health policy. The network would also support local communities by offering leadership training, data analytics, community health assessments, and grant writing support.
The bill would require the network to establish an advisory council.
At a time when spending on Medicaid has increased to the point where we are spending $30 billion per year, this legislation addresses the issue in a way that has the potential to realize significant cost savings. However, we suggest an amendment to address the cost noted in the fiscal note by requiring that the program be funded through gifts, grants, donations, or funds already appropriated for this purpose and barring funding through new appropriations.
The poor health outcomes for Medicaid are well documented and this program has the potential to improve Medicaid health outcomes.
We support this legislation.