The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission (TSAC) was established in 1977 to evaluate state agencies and make changes their missions or operations if necessary. TSAC has abolished seventy-nine agencies since 1977, saving Texas an estimated $945.6 million. Despite previous success, one of the newest recommendations has some Texans concerned.
In its May 2014 report, TSAC proposed that to redirect the focus of Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) onto public health, they will reduce the department’s scope of regulatory function. To eliminate DSHS’s regulatory function, TSAC is suggesting that 19 professions be deregulated, ending licensing requirements for X-ray technicians, medical physicists, and respiratory therapists amongst others.
In the report released by the TSAC, they state that the system currently providing licensing for these medical professions is under-funded and understaffed. The commission believes private agency and hospital oversight could protect patient safety adequately.
Many disagree, arguing that deregulation could actually put patient safety and health in danger. For example, respiratory therapists directly manage technical mechanical ventilators for patients who are unable to sustain life on their own. They need to have a working knowledge of the hazards, indications, contraindications, and dosages of medications patients are taking while on the ventilator. With the TSAC’s newest recommendation, respiratory care therapists would not have guaranteed training or background checks before being allowed into a patient’s room or home. This could put patients at risk of receiving care from respiratory care therapists who lack the proper skills, have engaged in criminal activity, or who lost their license in another state.
The 12 member Advisory Commission will announce its decision in August, 2014.