For this weekly feature, the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) profiles a noteworthy bill that is currently going through the legislative process. The bill may relate directly to TCDD’s Public Policy Priorities or another disability-related issue.
Bill: House Bill (HB) 797, relating to the possession and administration of certain vaccines by a home and community-support services agency or its employees.
Bill Author: Rep. Donna Howard, Texas House District 48 (Austin)
- Rep. Four Price, Texas House District 87 (Amarillo)
- Rep. Jacey Jetton, Texas House District 26 (Sugar Land)
- Rep. Bobby Guerra, Texas House District 41 (McAllen)
- Rep. Stephanie Klick, Texas House District 91 (North Richland Hills)
- Rep. Steve Allison, Texas House District 121 (San Antonio)
- Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson, Texas House District 56 (Waco)
- Rep. Angie Chen Button, Texas House District 112 (Garland)
- Rep. Abel Herrero, Texas House District 34 (Corpus Christi)
- Rep. Julie Johnson, Texas House District 115 (Irving)
- Rep. Eddie Morales, Texas House District 74 (Eagle Pass)
- Rep. Lina Ortega, Texas House District 77 (El Paso)
- Rep. John Raney, Texas House District 14 (College Station)
- Rep. Phil Stephenson, Texas House District 85 (Rosenburg)
- Rep. Steve Toth, Texas House District 15 (The Woodlands)
- Rep. Gary VanDeaver, Texas House District 1 (Texarkana)
- Rep. Erin Zwiener, Texas House District 45 (Kyle)
What does the bill do?
Under current law, home health nurses are allowed to administer the following vaccines:
- Hepatitis B vaccine
- Influenza vaccine
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine
However, they are unable to administer any vaccines that do not appear on that list, including the COVID-19 vaccine.
HB 797 would allow nurses at home and community-support service agencies to administer vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration to agency employees, home health or hospice patients, and family members of patients.
If passed into law, HB 797 would take immediate effect if approved by a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate. Otherwise, it would take effect on Sept. 1, 2021.
Statement from bill author, Rep. Donna Howard:
“Some of our most elderly and vulnerable Texans, including individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, receive their health care almost exclusively at home through their home care and hospice nurses. This has been crucial to ensuring their health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, these nurses are not currently authorized by state law to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to these Texans. HB 797 addresses this statutory barrier and allows our medically vulnerable neighbors to safely get vaccinated in their homes.”
Where is the bill in the process?
On April 1, 2021, HB 797 was voted unanimously out of the Texas House and was recently referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. On March 10, 2021, the bill received a public hearing by the House Committee on Public Health. You can watch the discussion here, beginning at the 00:02:13 mark.
Who supports the bill and why?
The following written comments were submitted for the March 10, 2021, public hearing of HB 797 by the House Committee on Public Health:
- DRTx: Susan Murphree, in her role as a senior policy specialist for Disability Rights Texas (DRTx): “Now that vaccines are becoming more available to individuals with disabilities who are aging and those with other significant health complications, our hope is that availability and ease of access for those choosing to get vaccinated improve. … HB 797 would have a positive impact on people seeking the vaccine to be assisted with signing up and getting vaccinated by home health and hospice agencies registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses, including in one’s own home or another convenient and accessible location.”
- TxP2P: Linda Litzinger, in her role as a public policy specialist for Texas Parent to Parent (TxP2P): “We have families across Texas who have a child or adult with a disability, and some are too fragile to leave their home to acquire a vaccination. Please pass this bill to allow home health nurses to provide the vaccination.”
The following groups provided testimony in support of HB 797: Texas Home Health and the Texas Association for Home Care and Hospice. The following organizations registered support for the bill, but provided no testimony: the Texas Medical Association, AARP, the Immunization Partnership, Alera Caring, the Texas Federation of Drug Stores, and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
Who opposes the bill and why?
No opposition was registered against the bill.
How much will the bill cost?
The Legislative Budget Board (LBB) determined the bill would not increase the state’s budget in a significant way.
Is there a Senate companion to the bill?
Sen. Dawn Buckingham has filed Senate Bill (SB) 816, which is nearly identical to HB 797.
For the latest information about where HB 797 is in the process, follow the bill on the Texas Legislature Online. To receive future legislative updates from TCDD, subscribe to TCDD eNews or follow us on Twitter.
Bill of the Week Updates:
HB 24: This bill, which would distribute funds to school districts for playgrounds that are inclusive and accessible for students with disabilities, is scheduled for a public hearing before the House Committee on Public Education on Tuesday, April 13.
SB 776: This bill’s House companion, HB 2193, is also set to be heard by the House Committee on Public Education on April 13. The bills would facilitate the creation of an adaptive sports program by the University Interscholastic League (UIL), providing students with disabilities greater access to team sports.