Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham)

State Senator Lois Kolkhorst has filed a package of bills she said will help continue the positive trends seen recently in the state’s maternal mortality rate.

Kolkhorst, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, said this legislation will save lives and increase efficiency in the state healthcare system. She said this plan will bring together hospitals, health professionals and families to develop the best practices for protecting mothers and newborns in Texas.

Kolkhorst has filed SB 750, which seeks to maximize state efforts to address maternal mortality, detailed by the Health and Human Service Commission’s report.

If passed, the bill will consider findings and recommendations of the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force. It will then update state law to align with new federal legislation on maternal mortality review committees.

This bill would build on a bill passed in 2017, when lawmakers passed SB 17, written by Kolkhorst. The 2017 bill streamlined the way Texas maintains its maternal health data, and reauthorized the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force.

In 2013, then-Representative Kolkhorst wrote and passed HB 15, which created new designation levels for Neonatal Intensive Care Units and maternal levels of care across the state. The Perinatal Advisory Council would then create standards for each level of designation, and the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) determined and assigned the levels.

To improve the current process for how those levels are designated, Kolkhorst filed SB 749, requiring an independent process for appeal of designations by DSHS, and clarifying the role of professional consultations, telemedicine and scope of practice.

Kolkhorst also filed SB 748, which would create a new and reliable fund to repair, upgrade and expand screenings conducted by the Texas Newborn Screening Laboratory.

Kolkhorst also filed SB 747 to see that the state publicly posts and updates the costs of newborn screenings, for the sake of better price transparency. The bill also prohibits health insurance plans from limiting reimbursement to providers who administer state required newborn screening tests.

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