Funding the utilization of community health workers in Texas
Community health workers (CHWs) are volunteers or paid members of communities that perform outreach, patient assistance, health education, and assist in navigation of healthcare system amongst other duties. The utilization of CHWs in hospital and community setting provides health benefits to their communities while reducing cost to the overall healthcare system. ^ The general population of Texas lacks adequate access to primary care. An important indicator of such a crisis is excessive usage of emergency department services in Texas, especially by the large minority population within the state. Also, unmanaged chronic diseases have been shown to be correlated with the excessive usage of emergency services. According to a recent survey of 25 Houston metropolitan area hospitals, almost 54% of the ER visits could have been resolved in primary care settings. A Galveston based study also indicated that the ER usage was higher amongst African-Americans and Latinos. Meanwhile, 28.5% of the total ER visits were made by Latinos from the surrounding areas (Begley et al., 2007). There is substantial evidence present which indicates enormous cost-savings that CHWs have produced in Texas and nationwide through reduction in unnecessary ER visits along with better management of chronic diseases (Fedder et al, 2003). ^ This paper provides an analysis regarding the need and importance for sustainable and stable sources of funding for Community health workers (CHWs) in Texas utilizing Kingdon's model of Agenda Setting as framework. The policy analysis is also aimed at reporting on the policy process and actions taken by Children at Risk to address this critical issue. Children at Risk, a Houston based advocacy organization, has created a legislative proposal that calls on the Texas Health and Human Commission to apply for a Medicaid §§1115 waiver to provide sustainable sources of funding for CHWs, Rep. John Zerwas sponsored HB 2244 bill and it was filed on March 3, 2011. The bill would affect the use of CHWs in Texas in two ways: 1) through the establishment and operation of a program designed to train and educate CHWs 2) by creating a statewide training and certification advisory committee. The advisory committee is required in the bill to submit recommendations for providing sustainable funding and employment for CHWs. The HB 2244 failed to move out of the House Public Health committee. However, HB2244 was amended into HB 2610 introduced by Representative Guillen. The House Bill 2610 is geared towards establishing a community-based navigator program in order to assist individuals applying for public assistance through the Internet. The House Bill 2610 was signed by the Governor and will be effective September 1, 2011.^
Health Sciences, Public Health
"Funding the utilization of community health workers in Texas"
(January 1, 2011).
Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest).