PUBLIC BENEFITS: HEALTH CARE ACCESS


The center focuses on health care access, immigrants' access to services, food and nutrition, the state's eligibility and enrollment system, and TANF.

Recent Health Care Access Publications

CPPP Comments on Texas HHSC Draft Medicaid 1115 Waiver Concept Paper: Submitted to CMS 12/5/07 (12/27/2007)
HHSC has submitted a draft Medicaid waiver concept paper to federal Medicaid authorities as part of its implementation of SB 10. This is a major proposal which could potentially create programs to provide health coverage for uninsured Texas adults under 200% of poverty. However, public input is critical to make sure the resulting programs provide good benefits at affordable price, and the program has enough funding to really serve large numbers of low-income uninsured workers. The draft concept paper as submitted on December 5, 2007 leaves so many critical elements undefined and key questions unanswered that it is impossible for CPPP to make a clear statement of support for the document or the HHSC effort at this point in development. HHSC solicited public comments by December 28, 2007 on the concept paper. CPPP submitted comments. Readers interested in requesting copies of comments from other Texas consumer and provider organizations may contact dunkelberg@cppp.org.

Comments Due Soon on Five Key HHSC Documents (12/12/2007)
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has posted five important documents on its web site for public comment: revision of the applications for public benefits; the TANF state plan; a Medicaid Waiver concept paper; and two draft Requests for Proposals relating to modernization of the eligibility and enrollment system for public benefits. We know this is a busy time of the year for everyone, but we urge you to take the time to submit comments to HHSC on these important issues.

CPPP Comments on HHSC Key Decisions for Texas Medicaid Waiver Concept Paper (11/6/2007)
CPPP issued comments in response to the Texas Health and Human Service Commission's request for public input on key decision areas that will be discussed in an upcoming Texas Medicaid Waiver Concept Paper.

The Texas Health Care Primer (Revised 2007) (11/1/2007)
The Center for Public Policy Priorities and Methodist Healthcare Ministries are pleased to release this updated primer, designed to give readers an introductory overview of factors shaping Texans' access to health care. Readers will be better able to contribute to federal, state, and local debates about how to improve health care access. There are two versions of the primer: The Booklet Version was designed for two-sided printing. The Side-by-Side Version was designed for on-screen viewing.

Call Right Now: Revised CHIP Bill Up for Vote Today (10/25/2007)
There will be a vote WITHIN AN HOUR OR TWO on a revised Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act. This bill is particularly important for Texas, which has the highest rate of children without health insurance in the country. House members worked in a bipartisan way to meet objections to the previous bill. Several Texas House members, including Representatives McCaul, Granger, and Neugebauer earlier signed a letter urging the very changes which have been made to the legislation. Please urge your congressional representative to vote yes on the revised legislation, which will provide health care to 10 million children.

CPPP Statement on SCHIP Vote (10/18/2007)
We are disappointed that Congress did not vote today to override the President’s veto of the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007. Texas benefits when all Texas children have regular health care. Healthy children grow into healthy adults better able to contribute to our economy and participate in our democracy. By 2012, this bipartisan legislation would have provided health insurance to almost 4 million children who would otherwise have had none, including many Texas children. CHIP has been particularly important to Texas because we have 1.5 million uninsured kids (1 out of every 5 Texas children), the highest percentage of uninsured children in the country. Too many Texas children live in families that earn too little to afford private health insurance.

How the Bipartisan CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2007 Helps Texas and How the McConnell-Lott-Cornyn Alternative Hurts Texas (10/10/2007)
On October 18, Congress will vote on whether to override the President’s veto of the bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007. Anticipating the vote, America is engaged in a major public debate about children’s health insurance. The Texas Congressional Delegation is split. Senator Hutchison and 12 Texas representatives voted for the bipartisan bill. Senator Cornyn and 18 Texas representatives voted against the bipartisan bill. Senator Cornyn is a co-sponsor of an alternative called McConnell-Lott. This paper analyzes how the bipartisan bill would help our state and how the alternative would hurt. Based upon this analysis, CPPP urges our Texas congressional delegation to vote to override the President’s veto.

President Vetoes CHIP But It's Not Too Late to Override (10/3/2007)
For the past 10 years, the Children’s Health Insurance Program has provided low-cost health insurance to millions of children in Texas and across the nation, helping keep kids healthy while strengthening the economy. For every $1 Texas invests in CHIP, Texas receives $2.64 in matching funds from the federal government. Yet, earlier this morning the President vetoed legislation that would have reauthorized the program and expanded health coverage to nearly 4 million uninsured children through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). “The President’s veto means that the advances Texas plans for our state CHIP program are at risk,” said Anne Dunkelberg, Associate Director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “Fortunately, it’s not too late. Even though the President vetoed the bill, Congress can still pass legislation that will make our children and our country better off."

CPPP Statement Regarding Senator Cornyn’s SCHIP Claims (10/3/2007)
CPPP has released a statement regarding Senator Cornyn’s SCHIP claims. We have also posted a letter we sent to Senator Cornyn in August and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Table that he is misreading that we discuss in the letter.

Big Tobacco Chooses Smoking Over Children; Targets Senator Hutchison (09/24/2007)
Congress is expected to vote as early as tomorrow on reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The agreement between the House and the Senate would increase the number of low-income children CHIP will cover. The increase would be completely paid for by an increase in tobacco taxes. Big Tobacco has targeted one bipartisan leader, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a supporter of the Senate’s CHIP bill on which the compromise bill is based. Philip Morris paid to send the flyer (see attached) to smokers across Texas urging them to put smoking over health care for children.

From CPPP on CHIP: Update on New Bill and Call to Action! (09/24/2007)
Congress is expected to vote as early as tomorrow on a new bipartisan bill reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The House and the Senate have agreed to increase the number of low-income children CHIP covers and pay for it by increasing tobacco taxes. The President is threatening to veto the bill. A strong bipartisan vote for the bipartisan compromise might stop a veto or strengthen Congress’ hand in the negotiations with the Administration after a veto.

Understanding the CHIP Battle in Congress: What Makes a Good CHIP Bill? (08/15/2007)
Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is in jeopardy in Congress. You may have followed the battle over CHIP in the Texas legislature and thought that CHIP had been fully funded. CHIP, however, is a federal and state program. Unless Congress passes a new bill to fund CHIP, and the President signs it into law, authorization for CHIP expires in September 2007. Congress is in recess now, but will return September 4. Just before the recess, the House and Senate each passed bipartisan bills. Now, the House and Senate will have to compromise on a final bill. The President is threatening a veto. While they are back at home in Texas, please let our U.S. Senators and Congressmen and women know you want them to support full funding of CHIP. Learn what makes a good CHIP bill.

Texas' CHIP Funding in Jeopardy at the Federal Level (07/23/2007)
The 2007 Texas legislative session saw important health care victories for Texas children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Now it’s up to Washington to reauthorize enough money so that Texas children can receive the quality coverage they deserve. This week will see a full Senate vote on SCHIP and important decisions about the House bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee. Ultimately, this legislation will fund Texas’ CHIP program for the next 5 years. More than any other state, Texas needs a strong CHIP reauthorization to allow our program, which has dropped by more than 200,000 children (over 40% of enrollment) to recover, and then to grow with the population. CHIP is effective and saves the state money, yet the President is threatening to veto the developing legislation, claiming that it would expand the program dramatically, reduce private coverage of low-income children, and pave the way for “government-run health care.” It's time for you to act!

Texas' CHIP Progress Now Depends on Congress! (07/9/2007)
The 2007 Texas legislative session saw important victories for Texas children. Legislators improved the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) program by restoring annual renewal, eliminating delays in coverage, and streamlining the enrollment process so that more children can receive affordable, cost-effective health care. None of this matters, however, unless Congress reauthorizes the federal CHIP block grant at a high enough funding level to implement these improvements. The House and Senate have preliminarily budgeted the necessary $50 billion for the State Children's Health Insurance Program, known in Washington as SCHIP, in their 2008 Budget Resolutions. The Administration, however, has not been enthusiastic about funding the full $50 billion. Over the next two weeks, House and Senate committees will begin writing the bills that determine how much money states can get for CHIP in the next five years, including whether the necessary $50 billion is budgeted.

Update on CHIP Bills (05/24/2007)
We are waiting for the Senate to name conferees for the conference committee on HB 109, where a compromise will hopefully be ironed out and sent to the Governor for passage. In the meantime, we have prepared an update of the House conferees and the costs and caseloads estimated in both bills.

Comparing the House and Senate CHIP Bills: House Would Cover More Children (05/21/2007)
The House passed HB 109 by a 128-17 vote on April 3. This bill would reform the Children's Health Insurance Program by allowing children to re-apply for CHIP once a year instead of twice, eliminating a 90-day waiting period for coverage, and letting families deduct child care expenses when determining their eligibility. On Thursday, May 17, the Senate Finance Committee passed a different bill that would make most of the same improvements to CHIP but modify the 12-month coverage. As a result, HHSC projects the Senate bill would cover 33,351 fewer kids than the House bill. Higher CHIP enrollment is also needed to avoid future forfeiting of millions of dollars in federal CHIP funds. The full Senate will vote on HB 109 this week, and a conference committee to negotiate a compromise is likely.

Record Number of Children Dropped From CHIP in May (05/3/2007)
Today the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) announced that 17,078 fewer children will be covered by the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in May than in April. This is the second largest number of children ever to be disenrolled in one month, second only to immediately after state budget cuts in 2003.

Analyses to Help You Prepare for the Conference Committee Budget Debate (05/1/2007)
CPPP has revised its overview of the differences between House and Senate state budget proposals for 2008 and 2009. More detailed side-by-side comparisons for Education, Protective Services, Medicaid/CHIP, Public Health, Assistive & Rehabilitative Services, and Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) are also available. Texas can afford to meet all its needs. Texas has at least $3 billion more in General Revenue that the legislature could appropriate. In addition, the legislature could redirect $1.4 billion in the House and Senate proposals that would only undo past payment deferrals. Undoing these payment deferrals has no purpose except to shelter money to pay for tax cuts after 2009. If the legislature appropriated this entire $4.4 billion to meet today's needs, Texas would still have another $4.3 billion in its Rainy Day Fund to meet an emergency of any sort.

Texas CHIP Rolls Must Grow FAST to Avoid Losing Federal CHIP Dollars Permanently— 12-Month Coverage the Best Way (04/18/2007)
Between 2000-2006, Texas gave up over $900 million in federal CHIP dollars. Congress had designated these dollars for Texas, but because we did not spend them, they went to other states. Congress is now reauthorizing the SCHIP Block Grant, and will write new rules governing how much federal matching money Texas can receive for CHIP in the next decade. The good news for Texas is that Congress is proposing substantial new CHIP funding, designed to allow states enroll uninsured children who meet CHIP qualifications but are currently not enrolled. The bad news for Texas is that Congress is proposing to determine a state’s CHIP allocation based on how much a state is spending on CHIP in federal fiscal year (FFY) 2009. The Texas legislature must move quickly to remove barriers to CHIP enrollment growth by providing for 12-month coverage. Otherwise, our federal allocation will be permanently reduced.

Testimony on Immigrants and Public Benefits in Texas (03/29/2007)
Anne Dunkelberg provided invited testimony on immigrants and public benefits in Texas at an Immigration and Border Security Hearing before the House Committee on State Affairs and the House Committee on Border and International Affairs.

Devil's in the Details: Six Essential Things Medicaid Reform Should Not Do (03/27/2007)
A number of bills aimed at making changes to Texas Medicaid are scheduled for hearings this week. While the bills as a group do include concepts with merit, there are also provisions which raise grave concerns from the perspectives of both client advocacy and fiscal responsibility. There are still opportunities to revise these bills to preserve and protect both client access to care as well as prudent stewardship of Texas taxpayer dollars. This Policy Page identifies the major themes in the bills needing revision to protect the interests of Medicaid recipients and taxpayers, and makes several recommendations.

Support HB 75: Administrative Appeal of a Denial of Food Stamps or Medicaid (03/26/2007)
On March 22, House Bill 75 by Representative Elliott Naishtat was favorably voted from the House Human Services Committee. HB 75 authorizes a person denied Food Stamps or Medicaid to appeal the decision to state court. Next, HB 75 goes to the House Calendars Committee, which must decide whether and when to schedule the bill for a vote by the full House. We are asking for your help in ensuring that HB 75 gets on the House calendar as soon as possible. Please contact all members of the House Calendars Committee today and urge them to calendar HB 75 as soon as possible.

A Fist Full of Dollars or A Frew Dollars More? (03/13/2007)
Wild rumors are circulating about the cost of complying with the settlement Texas agreed to in Frew v Hawkins in 1995. Some are saying Frew will require the state to identify and enroll every eligible Texas child in Medicaid (not true), or require the state to spend as much as $5 billion more annually on children in Medicaid (also not true). This Policy Page provides a brief summary of key facts about Frew and the upcoming April hearing.

Testimony on the Nuts and Bolts of the Texas CHIP Coalition/Insure Texas Kids Campaign (03/1/2007)
Anne Dunkelberg delivered invited testimony before a House Committee on Human Services hearing on CHIP. She discussed ways that the legislature can build on the success of Texas Medicaid and CHIP.

Testimony on Problems Enrolling Texans in Public Benefits (02/23/2007)
Celia Hagert and Anne Dunkelberg provided invited testimony at a public hearing on problems with Texas' system for determining eligibility for public benefits, including Food Stamps, CHIP, and Medicaid.

Governor's HPV Order is Unconstitutional: Austin American-Statesman (02/7/2007)
Conservatives are complaining about the Governor’s executive order that parents must vaccinate all female children for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) before the sixth grade. They instinctively feel that the governor has exceeded his authority. The conservatives are right. He has. This is not the first time, though. Just a little more than a year ago, the governor issued an executive order requiring elected school boards to spend 65 percent of their budgets in the classroom. Then, conservatives applauded. Both the vaccination order and the 65 percent order, however, violate the law in the same way. Under our constitution, the governor administers the law; the governor doesn’t make the law. This principle is textbook civics. Making law is for the legislature.

CHIP and Children’s Medicaid Briefing: Texas CHIP Coalition/Insure Texas Kids Campaign (02/1/2007)
Anne Dunkelberg, CPPP's Associate Director, teamed with Dr. Gary Floyd, President, Texas Pediatric Society; Chris Born, CEO, Texas Children’s Health Plan; and Barbara Best, Director, Children’s Defense Fund, to update staff and legislators of the 80th Legislative Session on health care issues.

Leading National Health Care Organization Has Named CPPP's Anne Dunkelberg Consumer Health Care Advocate of the Year (01/26/2007)
Today, January 26, Families USA, a national nonprofit organization committed to affordable health care, awarded Anne Dunkelberg, Associate Director of the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, Consumer Health Care Advocate of the Year.

Texas' Challenge as Congress Reauthorizes CHIP: Federal Block Grant Funding Must Grow to Avoid Future Texas CHIP Cuts and Allow for Coverage of Eligible but not Enrolled Children (01/10/2007)
Steep caseload declines and unspent federal funds have other states eyeing Texas’ share. Congress is scheduled to debate reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP, known in Texas as CHIP) block grant in 2007. Despite strong public support for CHIP and new Congressional leadership, winning additional funding for the block grant is not expected to be easy, given the strong commitment to fiscal restraint from both sides of the aisle.

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