|(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
(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;
(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
(4) In appointing members to the committee, the DSHS
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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.
(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