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  H.B. No. 617
 
 
 
 
AN ACT
  relating to a pilot project to provide emergency telemedicine
  medical services and telehealth services in rural areas.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Chapter 771, Health and Safety Code, is amended
  by adding Subchapter F to read as follows:
  SUBCHAPTER F. NEXT GENERATION 9-1-1 TELEMEDICINE MEDICAL SERVICES
  AND TELEHEALTH SERVICES PILOT PROJECT
         Sec. 771.151.  DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:
               (1)  "Center" means the area health education center at
  the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center that meets the
  requirements of 42 U.S.C. Section 294a and has been awarded federal
  funding as an area health education center.
               (2)  "Emergency medical services" means services used
  to respond to an individual's perceived need for immediate medical
  care and to prevent death or aggravation of physiological or
  psychological illness or injury.
               (3)  "Emergency medical services provider" means a
  person who uses or maintains emergency medical services vehicles,
  medical equipment, and emergency medical services personnel to
  provide emergency medical services.
               (4)  "Emergency prehospital care" means care provided
  to a sick or injured individual before or during transportation of
  the individual to a medical facility, and includes any necessary
  stabilization of the individual in connection with that
  transportation.
               (5)  "Pilot project" means a pilot project established
  under Section 771.152.
               (6)  "Regional trauma resource center" means a trauma
  facility the center selects to participate in the pilot project.
               (7)  "Rural area" means:
                     (A)  a county with a population of 50,000 or less;
  or
                     (B)  a large, isolated, and sparsely populated
  area of a county with a population of more than 50,000.
               (8)  "Telehealth service" and "telemedicine medical
  service" have the meanings assigned by Section 111.001, Occupations
  Code.
               (9)  "Trauma facility" means a health care facility
  equipped and staffed to provide comprehensive treatment of
  seriously injured individuals as part of an emergency medical
  services and trauma care system.
         Sec. 771.152.  ESTABLISHMENT OF PILOT PROJECT. (a) The
  commission, with the assistance of the center, shall establish a
  pilot project to provide emergency medical services instruction and
  emergency prehospital care instruction through a telemedicine
  medical service or telehealth service provided by regional trauma
  resource centers to:
               (1)  health care providers in rural area trauma
  facilities; and
               (2)  emergency medical services providers in rural
  areas.
         (b)  The commission shall provide technical assistance to
  the center in implementing the pilot project.
         (c)  The center, with the assistance of the commission,
  shall:
               (1)  design criteria and protocols for each
  telemedicine medical service or telehealth service offered and the
  related instruction, and provide the oversight necessary to conduct
  the pilot project;
               (2)  define criteria to determine when a telemedicine
  medical service or telehealth service that provides instruction for
  emergency medical services, emergency prehospital care, and trauma
  care should be transferred to an emergency medical resource center
  for intervention; and
               (3)  collect the data necessary to evaluate the
  project.
         (d)  The center may make available appropriate resources for
  individuals who do not speak English.
         Sec. 771.153.  PERSONNEL. The center shall provide the
  telemedicine medical service or telehealth service and related
  instruction for the pilot project through health care providers in
  regional trauma resource centers, including physicians,
  pharmacists, emergency medical personnel, and other health
  professionals.
         Sec. 771.154.  PARTICIPATION IN PILOT PROJECT. (a) The
  center shall determine the trauma facilities and emergency medical
  services providers interested in participating in the pilot
  project.
         (b)  A trauma facility or emergency medical services
  provider participating in the pilot project must agree to
  successfully complete any required training and to provide all
  reports required by the center for the project.
         Sec. 771.155.  SELECTION OF PILOT PROJECT PARTICIPANTS AND
  REGIONAL TRAUMA RESOURCE CENTERS. (a) The center, with the
  assistance of the commission, may select trauma facilities and
  emergency medical services providers to participate in the pilot
  project and select trauma facilities to serve as regional trauma
  resource centers.
         (b)  The center may not select a trauma facility to
  participate in the pilot project or to serve as a regional trauma
  resource center unless the facility:
               (1)  has a quality assurance program that measures each
  health care provider's compliance with the medical protocol;
               (2)  uses emergency medical services and emergency
  prehospital care protocols approved by a physician medical director
  knowledgeable in emergency medical services and emergency
  prehospital care;
               (3)  has experience in providing emergency medical
  services and emergency prehospital care that the center determines
  is sufficient; and
               (4)  has resources sufficient to provide the additional
  telemedicine medical services or telehealth services and related
  instruction required for the project in addition to the health care
  services the facility already provides.
         (c)  In selecting a trauma facility to serve as a regional
  trauma resource center, the center shall consider the facility
  personnel's ability to maintain records and produce reports to
  measure the effectiveness of the pilot project. The center shall
  share information regarding that ability with the commission.
         Sec. 771.156.  FUNDING OF PILOT PROJECT. (a) Money
  collected under Section 771.072(f) may be appropriated to the
  commission to fund the pilot project.
         (b)  The center may seek grants to fund the pilot project.
         (c)  A political subdivision with a trauma facility that
  participates in the pilot project may pay part of the project costs.
         (d)  If a sufficient number of political subdivisions in a
  region that may be served by the pilot project agree to pay the
  center an amount that together with other funding received under
  this section is sufficient to fund the project for the region, the
  center shall:
               (1)  contract with the political subdivisions for each
  subdivision to pay an appropriate share of the cost; and
               (2)  implement the project for the region when the
  amounts agreed to in the contracts and any other funding received
  under this section are sufficient to fund the project for the
  region.
         Sec. 771.157.  REPORT TO LEGISLATURE. The center, in
  cooperation with the commission, shall report its findings to the
  governor and the presiding officer of each house of the legislature
  not later than December 31, 2028.
         Sec. 771.158.  LIABILITY. The operations of the center and a
  regional trauma resource center are considered to be the provision
  of 9-1-1 services for purposes of Section 771.053. Employees of and
  volunteers at the regional trauma resource center have the same
  protection from liability as a member of the governing body of a
  public agency under Section 771.053.
         Sec. 771.159.  PROJECT WORK GROUP. (a) The center may
  appoint a project work group to assist the center in developing,
  implementing, and evaluating the pilot project and preparing a
  report on the center's findings.
         (b)  A member of the project work group is not entitled to
  compensation for serving on the project work group and may not be
  reimbursed for travel or other expenses incurred while conducting
  the business of the project work group.
         (c)  The project work group is not subject to Chapter 2110,
  Government Code.
         Sec. 771.160.  EXPIRATION. This subchapter expires
  September 1, 2029.
         SECTION 2.  Section 771.072(g), Health and Safety Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (g)  Notwithstanding any other law, revenue derived from the
  equalization surcharge imposed under this section may be
  appropriated to the commission only for the purposes described by
  Section 771.156 and Sections 773.122 through 773.124.
         SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2023.
 
 
  ______________________________ ______________________________
     President of the Senate Speaker of the House     
 
 
         I certify that H.B. No. 617 was passed by the House on April
  4, 2023, by the following vote:  Yeas 142, Nays 2, 1 present, not
  voting.
 
  ______________________________
  Chief Clerk of the House   
 
 
         I certify that H.B. No. 617 was passed by the Senate on May
  22, 2023, by the following vote:  Yeas 30, Nays 1.
 
  ______________________________
  Secretary of the Senate    
  APPROVED:  _____________________
                     Date          
   
            _____________________
                   Governor