SENATE APPROVES NEW INFANT CARE STANDARDS
(AUSTIN) — Texas would begin to rank hospitals based on the quality of neonatal intensive care under a bill approved by the Senate Wednesday. According to bill sponsor Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, too many children are born in Texas hospitals that aren't able to meet their needs. "Half of Texas babies with very low birth weight are born in hospitals that are unable to provide an adequate level of care, putting Texas in the bottom 5% of the country on this quality measure," she said. Furthermore, Texas ranks 29th out of 50 states in child mortality rates, according to the US Census Bureau. HB 15 aims to improve that number by creating accreditation standards for neonatal intensive care.
Last session, the Legislature created a neonatal intensive care council that was charged with developing standards for accrediting hospitals and developing standards of care. HB 15 would implement the council's interim findings. It would create the Perinatal Advisory Council which would develop criteria for judging the standard of neonatal and maternal levels of care at a hospital, and then would assign a designation based on that level of care. Hospitals that don't meet a minimum standard of care couldn't receive Medicaid reimbursements for non-emergency neonatal and maternal services. This bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously, and now heads to the Governor's desk for his signature.
Other bills passed by the Legislature Wednesday include:
- HB 915, sponsored by Nelson, which would increase accountability and awareness about the risks and benefits of psychotropic drugs prescribed to foster children.
- HB 1265, sponsored by Zaffirini, which would create a program to educate state employees about the availability of life and disability insurance
- HB 2302, sponsored by West, which would create a fee for certain e-filed court documents
- SB 1029, by Campbell, which would prohibit the Department of Transportation from converting a non-tolled highway into a tolling project.
The Senate will reconvene Thursday, May 16 at 11 a.m.