THE INTENT OF HB4220 IS EVIDENT. IT IS TO HINDER THE OMBUDSMAN'S ABILITY TO INVESTIGATE
Updated: May 19
I have hestitated to say it so bluntly but Representative Clardy practically said so himself to KXAN when he said that ombudsmen are “not there as investigators. They’re not there to be amateur sleuths. They’re there to provide support.” But he also said so when he introduced the bill in April. And, I have every reason to believe this bill will get a hearing this week unless we make calls.
PLEASE CALL SENATORS ON THE COMMITTEE ASAP
Listen to the conflicting statements about the goal of HB4220 from April, when he introduced the bill to the House Human Services Committee and said lines were blurred, ombudsmen only there for support etc., and May after advocates called attention to the error regarding the ombudsman's role according to Federal law and regulations. So when he layed the bill out to the House in May, it was about responsiveness and transparency to residents and families and improving accountability and consistency.
FYI, I am in contact with advocacy groups like ours in other states and we are ENVIED for how responsive, effective, throrough, and available our program is to residents. The accountability and consistency he refers to goes back to comments in a work group I was in and at the House public hearing re: FACILITIES having an issue with ombudsmen not resolving the same issue the exact same way in every facility and (1) that is impossible (2) the program affecting 130,000 residents should not be amended because a few facillities are displeased about how a few ombudsmen resolved an issue. It's not about facilities. Federal law says so.
Even if it WAS (but Federal law says it's not), it is clear Representative Clardy’s intent is to hinder the ombudsman’s ability to investigate inside facilities. Remember, he told KXAN News ombudsmen are “not there as investigators. They’re not there to be amateur sleuths. They’re there to provide support.”
That reflects his original statements in April that he does not want ombudsmen investigating and it is an absolute contradiction to federal law. Ombudsmen, are, according to Federal law and regulations there for the health, safety, welfare, and rights of residents and part of their role is to identify, investigate, and resolve complaints including abuse and neglect.
While families, AARP TEXAS, and other advocates have successfully advocated for the removal of some harmful sections of HB4220, the entire bill is an encroachment on .residents' rights.
The final section of the bill even requires the State Ombudsman to give providers a roadmap of all Capitol advocacy efforts so provider groups can follow behind them and more effectively oppose every bill an ombudsman supports in the interests of residents. This is like telling legislators they must give their opponents a list of all their campaign efforts in the name of "transparency" so the opponent can better follow behind and immediately campaign with opposing views and materials. Plus this section 100% violates Federal law and requires the Ombudsman to do a task that is not at all of benefit or in service to residents.
Please call Senators on the Committee ASAP. There is no hearing scheduled right now (9:30 a.m. on Wed) but being so close to the end of session, suspending rules and scheduling one the end of this week is a probability.
Senate Committee on Health and Human Services
Lois W. Kolkhorst, Chair (512) 463-0118
Charles Perry, Vice - Chair (512) 463-0128
César Blanco (512) 463-0129
Sen. Bob Hall (512) 463-0102
Sen. Kelly Hancock (512) 463-0109
Sen. Bryan Hughes (512) 463-0101
Sen. Morgan LaMantia (512) 463-0127
Sen. Borris L. Miles (512) 463-0113
Sen. Kevin Sparks (512) 463-0131
We are Texas Caregivers for Compromise and we are #notgoingaway!