Burke 2017 Legislative Brief

Burke provides award-winning services in 12 East Texas counties. Across our region, we operate 46 facilities that specialize in personal, professional, and compassionate care for each and every client. Part of the East Texas health care community for 40 years, Burke employs more counselors, psychiatrists, therapists, and case workers than any other provider.

As the 85th Texas Legislature approaches, we are focused on:

  • Improving access to non-forensic psychiatric inpatient beds,
  • Continuing our expanded 1115 Transformation Waiver services,
  • Restoring funding for Early Childhood Intervention services, and
  • Securing adequate funding for long-term intellectual and developmental disability services


Priority – Psychiatric Inpatient Beds

Burke’s Mental Health Emergency Center (MHEC) provides an important alternative to inpatient psychiatric hospitalization and serves more than 1,300 people each year. Some people, however, need a higher level of care than MHEC can provide. In the past, these individuals could usually be served under civil commitment to a state hospital bed. Due to the growing use of state hospital beds for forensic commitments, the state hospital beds available for civil commitments has been drastically reduced.

As civil capacity at state hospitals has diminished, Burke has had to purchase inpatient beds at private psychiatric hospitals outside our region. In FY 2016, the cost to Burke grew to over $1.1 million and is on track to exceed that amount in FY 2017. Burke receives no funding for this expense. This expenditure is unsustainable for Burke.

Burke’s Legislative Requests

  • Support the request by the Joint Committee on Access and Forensic Services for a supplemental appropriation to expand forensic capacity while preserving current civil capacity
  • Support appropriations and exceptional items to increase funding for contracted community beds

Priority – 1115 Transformation Waiver

The 1115 Transformation Waiver seeks to transform local health care delivery systems for low-income Texans by improving access to services and reducing reliance on higher cost care. Through this waiver, Burke has been able to leverage local funds to draw down federal dollars for Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) projects.
With the benefit of 1115 Waiver funding, Burke has been able to:

  • Improve Access to Care. We added new clinic sites, enhanced our telemedicine network and added staff at all locations. We have doubled capacity and eliminated waiting lists for mental health care.

  • Enhance Crisis Services. We have added medical detox services and now provide that care to more than 250 people each year at our Mental Health Emergency Center. Burke also expanded our Mobile Crisis Outreach Team, serving more than 600 new people each year.
  • Integrate with Primary Care. We now offer needed primary medical care services at our Angelina Mental Health Center.
  • Expand Peer Services. We have hired more people who are recovering from mental illness to provide services and support to others in our programs.
  • Launch Burke’s REAL Campaign. This public health program addresses the stigma of mental illness by amplifying stories of East Texans who are actively and proudly managing their mental health.

The 1115 Waiver expires December 2017.

Burke’s Legislative Requests

Support HHSC negotiation efforts to continue the DSRIP initiatives that have made such an impact in East Texas

Priority – Early Childhood Intervention

Burke’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program provides services for children from birth to age three with significant developmental delays. Services include an array of therapies delivered in a home setting where parents and caregivers can learn to replicate needed services to help babies reach developmental milestones and avoid or reduce the need for assistance later in life.

As illustrated in the graph above, statewide policy changes over the last five years have resulted in reduced funding, narrowed eligibility criteria, and fewer children served than ever before. Reduced rates for needed therapy services have left providers like Burke struggling to continue operation.

Burke’s Legislative Requests

  • Roll back the rate cuts made last session for therapy services
  • Support appropriations and exceptional items to fund ECI caseload growth
  • Direct state offices to adopt contract changes to allow for more efficient business practices
  • Authorize use of available federal IDEA Part C funds

Priority – Intellectual & Developmental Disability Services

Burke is the Local Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Authority for 12 East Texas counties. In this role, Burke is the primary access point for essential and cost-effective, community-based services and supports for people with IDD. Burke connects people to needed services, assists in planning their care, and provides local oversight and accountability for over 1,400 individuals each year.

Burke’s Legislative Requests

Support exceptional items and appropriations that:

  • Reduce waiting lists for community services
  • Support improvements in day habilitation (Day Hab) services
  • Maintain and enhance funding for crisis services

Burke at a Glance

We believe all East Texans in need deserve high-quality, personal, professional, and compassionate mental health and developmental disability services. Whatever their income or station in life, our clients deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and that is what every Burke employee strives to deliver.

With more than 600 employees (422 full-time), Burke is one of the largest employers in East Texas. Burke employees are as committed to their clients and communities as they are to their profession. Many of us were born and raised here. Others got here as fast as we could. Our people make it possible to deliver the highest-quality, most comprehensive services to our clients.

Half of our employees live in Angelina County, 17% in Nacogdoches County, and the remainder live in Burke’s other service area counties.