Article II - HHSC: Testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services

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Celia Cole /(512) 320-0222 x110

February 26, 2009

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The Legislature must fully fund HHSC Exceptional Items 2 and 3 to provide additional staff for the eligibility system. The demand for services is already on the rise and will only increase as the full effects of the recession hit Texas. Without adequate staff, HHSC cannot provide timely and accurate benefits to eligible families. The delay or inappropriate denial or termination of benefits not only causes great hardship to needy Texans; it also causes the state to lose out on critical federal funds for Food Stamps and Medicaid that boost our state and local economies. The Legislature should also use a portion of the biennial balance in TANF block grant funds to increase cash assistance to extremely poor families and help them weather the economic recession. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) includes an Emergency Contingency Fund that would reimburse Texas for 80% of this increased TANF spending.