February 27, 2020

To address important issues facing the long-term care industry and the people they serve, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will be hosting its first meeting of the new Long-term Care Facilities Council.

The kickoff meeting will be held Tuesday, March 3, at 1 p.m. in the public hearing room at the Robert D. Moreton Building in Austin. Read additional information about the meeting.

As called for in Senate Bill 1519 from the 2019 legislative session, this standing advisory council made up of providers and HHSC staff is charged with:

  • Improving the consistency and efficiency of HHSC’s regulatory and informal dispute resolution processes for nursing facilities and assisted living facilities;
  • developing recommendations for a Medicaid quality-based payment system for nursing facilities; and
  • assessing the process to allocate Medicaid beds to nursing facilities and recommending improvements to make it more effective.

HHSC is committed to ensuring that discussions of these important issues are robust and reflect input from all relevant stakeholders, including providers, advocates and subject matter experts.

Chaired by Ryan Harrington, an assisted living provider and president and CEO of Trinity Healthcare, LLC, the council consists of the following additional members as required by Senate Bill 1519:

  • Byron Burris, II, an owner and operator of for-profit and nonprofit nursing facilities in rural Texas.
  • Dr. Steven Nowotny, a medical director for three long-term care facilities in the Corpus Christi area.
  • Dr. Obinna Ogundu, a registered nurse and nursing facility administrator in the Houston area who has experience with the informal dispute resolution process.
  • Sophia Saucedo, a nonprofit nursing facility provider who is also a new facility administrator.
  • Michael Gayle, an expert in quality-based payment systems and clinical expert on services for individuals who are geriatric or have an intellectual and developmental disability.
  • Dr. Michael Fischer, a physician at the Department of State Health Services with expertise in infectious disease and public health.
  • Victoria Grady, director of the HHSC Rate Analysis department and expert on rate methodology and financial incentive programs.
  • Michelle Dionne-Vahalik, interim associate commissioner of HHSC’s Long-term Care Regulatory (LTCR) program and a registered nurse.
  • Linda Lothringer, former HHSC LTCR Director of Survey Operations and now a regional director with the agency.
  • Allison Levee, director of the Informal Dispute Resolution department at HHSC.

Any questions regarding council agenda items, content, or meeting arrangements should be directed to Laura Gutierrez, council coordinator, at 512-438-4315 or laura.gutierrez@hhsc.state.tx.us.