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RULE §37.401Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force

(a) The committee. The Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force (committee) is appointed under and governed by this section. The committee is established under Texas Health and Safety Code, §§34.001 - 34.018.

(b) Purpose. The purpose of the committee is to study cases of pregnancy-related deaths and trends in severe maternal morbidity and to make recommendations to reduce the incidence of pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity in Texas.

(c) Tasks. The committee:

  (1) studies and reviews:

    (A) cases of pregnancy-related deaths;

    (B) trends, rates, or disparities in pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity;

    (C) health conditions and factors that disproportionately affect the most at-risk populations as determined in the joint biennial report required under Texas Health and Safety Code, §34.015; and

    (D) best practices and programs operating in other states that have reduced rates of pregnancy-related deaths;

  (2) compares rates of pregnancy-related deaths based on the socioeconomic status of the mother;

  (3) determines the feasibility of the committee studying cases of severe maternal morbidity; and

  (4) in consultation with the Perinatal Advisory Council, makes recommendations to help reduce the incidence of pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity in this state.

(d) Reports. No later than September 1 of each even-numbered year, the committee must submit a biennial written report to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and appropriate committees of the Texas Legislature.

  (1) The report must include:

    (A) the findings of the committee related to their study and review of cases and trends in pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity in this state; and

    (B) any policy recommendations made to the HHSC Executive Commissioner to help reduce the incidence of pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity.

  (2) DSHS must disseminate the report to the state professional associations and organizations listed in Texas Health and Safety Code, §34.006(b).

(e) Sunset Provision. The committee is subject to Texas Government Code, Chapter 325, (Texas Sunset Act). Unless continued in existence as provided by that chapter, the committee is abolished and this section expires September 1, 2023.

(f) Composition. The committee is composed of 17 members:

  (1) fifteen members appointed by the DSHS Commissioner:

    (A) four physicians specializing in obstetrics, at least one of whom is a maternal fetal medicine specialist;

    (B) one certified nurse-midwife;

    (C) one registered nurse;

    (D) one nurse specializing in labor and delivery;

    (E) one physician specializing in family practice;

    (F) one physician specializing in psychiatry;

    (G) one physician specializing in pathology;

    (H) one epidemiologist, biostatistician, or researcher of pregnancy-related deaths;

    (I) one social worker or social service provider;

    (J) one community advocate in a relevant field;

    (K) one medical examiner or coroner responsible for recording deaths; and

    (L) one physician specializing in critical care;

  (2) a representative of DSHS's family and community health programs; and

  (3) the state epidemiologist for DSHS or the epidemiologist's designee.

  (4) In appointing members to the committee, the DSHS Commissioner:

    (A) includes members working in and representing communities that are diverse with regard to race, ethnicity, immigration status, and English proficiency;

    (B) includes members from differing geographic regions in the state, including both rural and urban areas;

    (C) endeavors to include members who are working in and representing communities that are affected by pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity and by a lack of access to relevant perinatal and intrapartum care services; and

    (D) ensures that the composition of the committee reflects the racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of Texas.

(g) Terms of office.

  (1) Members are appointed for staggered six-year terms, with the terms of four or five members, as appropriate, expiring February 1st of each odd-numbered year.

  (2) A committee member may serve more than one term.

  (3) If a vacancy occurs, a person is appointed to serve the unexpired portion of that term.

(h) Officers. The DSHS Commissioner appoints from among the committee members a presiding officer.

  (1) The presiding officer presides at all committee meetings at which he or she is in attendance, calls meetings in accordance with this section, appoints subcommittees of the committee as necessary, and causes proper reports to be made to the HHSC Executive Commissioner. The presiding officer may serve as an ex officio member of any subcommittee of the committee.

  (2) The committee may reference its presiding officer by another term, such as chairperson.

(i) Meetings. The committee meets at least quarterly to conduct business, or at the call of the DSHS Commissioner.

  (1) The committee meets at the call of the presiding officer.

  (2) Meeting arrangements are made by DSHS staff.

  (3) The committee is subject to the Open Meetings Act, Texas Government Code, Chapter 551, except when the committee conducts a closed meeting to review cases under Texas Health and Safety Code, §34.007. Meetings may be conducted in person, through teleconference call, or by means of other technology.

  (4) A simple majority of the appointed committee members constitutes a quorum for the purpose of transacting official business.

  (5) The committee is authorized to transact official business only when in a legally constituted meeting with a quorum present.

  (6) The agenda for each committee meeting must include an opportunity for new business or for any member to address the committee on matters relating to committee business.

  (7) The committee shall allow for public comment during at least one public meeting each year.

  (8) The committee shall present in open session recommendations made under Texas Health and Safety Code, §34.005 to help reduce the incidence of pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity in this state.

  (9) The committee shall post public notice for meetings conducted for the sole purpose of reviewing cases for selection under Texas Health and Safety Code, §34.007.

(j) Attendance. Members must attend committee meetings as scheduled.

  (1) A member must notify the presiding officer or appropriate DSHS staff if he or she is unable to attend a scheduled meeting.

  (2) It is grounds for removal from the committee if a member cannot discharge the member's duties for a substantial part of the term for which the member is appointed because of illness or disability, is absent from more than half of the committee meetings during a calendar year, or is absent from at least three consecutive committee meetings.

  (3) The validity of an action of the committee is not affected by the fact that it is taken when grounds for removal of a member exists.

(k) Staff. Staff support for the committee is provided by DSHS staff.

(l) Confidentiality.

  (1) Any information pertaining to a pregnancy-related death or severe maternal morbidity is confidential.

  (2) Confidential information that is acquired by DSHS and that includes identifying information of an individual or health care provider is confidential and may not be disclosed to any person.

  (3) Information is not confidential under this section if the information is general information that cannot be connected with any specific individual, case, or health care provider.

  (4) The committee may publish statistical studies and research reports based on information that is confidential under this section, provided that the information:

    (A) is published in the aggregate;

    (B) does not identify a patient or the patient's family;

    (C) does not include any information that could be used to identify a patient or the patient's family; and

    (D) does not identify a health care provider.

  (5) The department will adopt and implement practices and procedures to ensure that information that is confidential under this section is not disclosed in violation of this section.

  (6) In accordance with Texas Health and Safety Code, §34.009, information in the committee's possession is confidential and excepted from disclosure under the Public Information Act, Texas Government Code, Chapter 552.

  (7) The committee and DSHS must comply with all state and federal laws and rules relating to the transmission of health information, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (Pub. L. No. 104-191) and rules adopted under that Act.

(m) Statements by members.

  (1) HHSC, DSHS, and the committee are not bound in any way by any statement, recommendation, or action on the part of any committee member, except when a statement or action is in pursuit of specific instructions from HHSC, DSHS, or the committee.

  (2) The committee and its members may not participate in legislative activity in the name of HHSC, DSHS, or the committee except with approval through HHSC's legislative process. Committee members are not prohibited from representing themselves or other entities in the legislative process.

  (3) A committee member must not accept or solicit any benefit that might reasonably tend to influence the member in the discharge of the member's official duties.

  (4) A committee member must not disclose confidential information acquired through his or her committee membership.

  (5) A committee member must not knowingly solicit, accept, or agree to accept any benefit for having exercised the member's official powers or duties in favor of another person.

  (6) A committee member who has a personal or private interest in a matter pending before the committee must publicly disclose the fact in a committee meeting and may not vote or otherwise participate in the matter. The phrase "personal or private interest" means the committee member has a direct pecuniary interest in the matter but does not include the committee member's engagement in a profession, trade, or occupation when the member's interest is the same as all others similarly engaged in the profession, trade, or occupation.

(n) Reimbursement for expenses.

  (1) Members appointed to the committee are not entitled to compensation for service on the committee or reimbursement for travel or other expenses incurred by the member while conducting the business of the committee.

  (2) In carrying out its duties, the committee may use technology, including teleconferencing or videoconferencing, to eliminate travel expenses.

Source Note: The provisions of this §37.401 adopted to be effective June 30, 2016, 41 TexReg 4644; amended to be effective October 17, 2018, 43 TexReg 6844

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