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

Why CPPP Supports Congress' Health Reform Bills and What You Can Do to Make the Final Bill Better (12/23/2009)

Austin, Texas--The Center for Public Policy Priorities today released a statement regarding the center’s position on the U.S. Senate’s national health reform bill. During the holiday recess and the weeks to come, please visit and call on your member of Congress to do everything in their power to improve the final bill by including the House’s stronger affordability and market reform provisions in the final bill.

Open Letter to Texas Congressional Delegation on National Health Reform Conference (12/16/2009)

CPPP Executive Director F. Scott McCown and CPPP Associate Director Anne Dunkelberg sent a letter to Texas' congressional delegation urging them to:

  • Adopt the House bill’s stronger affordability measures for families below 250 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines; and
  • Require the House’s much stronger standards for a Health Insurance Exchanges--whether through a single national exchange or state-level exchanges--to empower exchanges to negotiate with insurers and deliver better value to individuals and small businesses.

Laid-Off Workers Will Lose Health Coverage Today as Federal Cobra Subsidies Expire (12/1/2009)

Millions of Unemployed Workers and Dependents Received Federal COBRA Subsidies, but for Many Those Subsidies Expire on November 30

To Buy COBRA Coverage without Subsidies, Texas Families Must Pay an Average of $1,081 per Month " More Than 78 Percent of Average Unemployment Insurance Checks

Washington, D.C. " On December 1, many of the millions of laid-off workers and dependents who received federal subsidies to help pay for health care coverage will lose those subsidies and may join the ranks of the uninsured, according to a report issued today.

Rising Health Insurance Premiums in Texas Reinforce Need for National Health Reform (11/30/2009)

Texans with health insurance today through their jobs stand to benefit greatly from national health reform that makes coverage more affordable, stable, and secure for employers, employees, and employees’ families. This Policy Page examines trends related to employer-sponsored health insurance and ways national health reform can shore up employer-sponsored health insurance to establish stable and secure coverage Texans can count on.

CPPP Thanks Texas Members of Congress for "Yes" Votes for HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act (11/17/2009)

On November 17, CPPP sent a thank-you letter to the members of the Texas congressional delegation who voted to approve HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. Their votes were a historic step toward making real health reform a reality for our country.

Twenty-One Texas Groups to Congressional Delegation: Pass Meaningful Health Reform This Year (11/3/2009)

Joint letter urges meaningful action on health care affordability, highlights utility of public option

Austin, Texas"Twenty-one Texas organizations today submitted the following letter to the Texas congressional delegation strongly urging passage of meaningful health care reform in 2009. These groups organized their effort through Texas Voice for Health Reform, a project that aims to educate Texans and give them a voice in the national health reform debate. The letter urges legislators to take meaningful steps to make health care affordable and conveys the groups’ consensus that a public option is an important tool for achieving affordability.

Below is the full text of the letter.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Medicaid Changes in National Health Care Reform: Huge Positive Gains for Texas (10/9/2009)

In explaining why they oppose national health care reform, specifically the Senate Finance Committee’s version, Governor Rick Perry and Senator John Cornyn both point to the increase in the cost of Medicaid for the state budget based on a preliminary estimate by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). HHSC says costs would increase by “$20.4 billion over 10 years.” In this paper, we analyze HHSC’s cost estimate and compare it to the benefit to Texas’ economy from Medicaid expansion. We explain that HHSC’s estimate includes paying for already eligible but unenrolled children and a shift of certain costs from local to state. We also explain that the estimate cannot be compared to other national estimates because it covers a longer time. We conclude that the agency estimate is unrealistically high, but that by any measure, including the estimate itself, the economic benefit to Texas dramatically outweighs the cost to the state budget.

Metro- and Congressional-Area Census Data Show Need for National Health Reform (09/22/2009)

Austin, Texas " The 2008 American Community Survey (ACS) data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on September 21 show that Texans stand to gain the most from national health reform. Nearly all of Texas’ metro and rural area uninsured rates exceed the U.S. average. Texas again had the nation’s highest statewide uninsured rate, and some localities far exceeded the statewide rate of 24.1 percent. Texas entered the recession later than the rest of the nation and experienced low rates of unemployment through most of 2008, so these new data reflect only the very beginning of the recession’s impact on Texas.

New Census Data Show Texas Stands to Gain Most from Health Reform (09/10/2009)

New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau show that in 2008, Texas remained the state with the highest uninsured rate in the nation with an uninsured population that now tops 6 million people. With so many Texans lacking health security, Texas has more to gain than other states from national health reform legislation, which the Congressional Budget Office projects will cover 94 percent of Americans under age 65. Due to the steep rise in the state unemployment rate in 2009, Texas’ uninsured population is most likely even larger today than these latest 2008 estimates indicate.

Health Reform Amendments Contradict Misinformation, Highlight Compromises (09/2/2009)

National health reform will bring more security and stability to Texans who have health insurance coverage today and extend coverage to millions of uninsured Texans. To stop reform, some opponents have spread misinformation and downright lies about the bills. Understandably, this misinformation alarmed many recipients. This Policy Page highlights House Energy and Commerce Committee amendments passed just before the August recess that explicitly prohibit practices falsely alleged to be in health reform bills, including “rationing care,” “covering undocumented immigrants,” and other misinformation. This document also summarizes the significant amendments resulting from compromises with both the “Blue Dog” and progressive Democrats.

CPPP Urges Governor to Disavow Attacks on Medicare and Medicaid, Start Digging Texas Out of Health Care Hole (08/18/2009)

Austin, Texas"The Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) today released the following statement from CPPP Associate Director Anne Dunkelberg decrying attacks made against Medicare and Medicaid during the governor’s press conference on health reform.

Top Ten Reasons to Love the House Health Reform Bill (07/23/2009)

Health reform bills moving through Congress right now will extend affordable, quality health coverage to 97 percent of Americans and protect families against high health care costs. If you lack health insurance, your best chance to get it is health reform. If you do have health insurance, you may soon lose it without health reform. The U.S. House is considering a very strong bill, expected to be far stronger than the Senate Finance Committee’s forthcoming package. In this Policy Page, CPPP provides a very high-level view of the major strengths of the House bill, and a few key observations on the potential Texas impact.

CPPP Expresses Disappointment with House Failure to Vote on CHIP; Thanks All Who Supported CHIP (06/1/2009)

Austin, Texas--The Center for Public Policy Priorities today expressed disappointment with the Texas House of Representatives’ failure to vote on the Conference Committee Report for SB 2080, legislation that would have made more uninsured children eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Senate adopted the CCR for SB 2080 on Sunday night, but the House adjourned on Sunday without considering the legislation and refused to consider it today before adjournment.

Broad Coalition Praises Senate CHIP Vote, Urges House to Act Quickly to Get CHIP Buy-In to Governor’s Desk (05/28/2009)

Austin, Texas"A broad coalition of Texas organizations today released the following joint statement applauding Senate passage of Senator Averitt's CHIP buy-in proposal, which was included as an amendment to HB 1795. The legislation would allow more families without meaningful access to private health insurance coverage to insure their children by paying monthly family-income-based CHIP premiums. Last night's Senate passage of this legislation will allow for a House vote on the final bill before it is sent to the Governor's desk.

Broad Coalition Presses Leaders in House and Senate to 'Act Swiftly and Forcefully to Pass CHIP Bill' (05/26/2009)

Austin, Texas"Several statewide organizations (listed below) today released the following joint statement on the legislative process regarding SB 841 and HB 2962--strong, similar Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) bills which passed their originating chambers of the state legislature with bipartisan sponsorship and support. Each of these bills, currently delayed in the legislative process, would allow more families without meaningful access to private health insurance coverage to insure their children by paying monthly family-income-based CHIP premiums.

SB 6: Healthy Texas (05/22/2009)

Nearly 6 million Texans are uninsured, and premiums in Texas are growing ten times faster than our incomes. With only one-in-three small employers offering coverage, bolstering access to employer-sponsored coverage through small businesses is an essential step in covering the uninsured. Because previous efforts to increase access for small employers have had limited success, we need bold, innovative steps like SB 6. Healthy Texas can put private health insurance coverage within reach of many uninsured Texans working for small employers by addressing the primary barrier to coverage"the high cost of premiums"using an innovative public-private partnership. SB 6 passed out of the House Insurance committee and is waiting to be set on the House calendar.

CPPP Comments to U.S. Senate Finance Committee on "Expanding Health Care Coverage: Proposals to Provide Affordable Coverage to All Americans" (05/21/2009)

The Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) in Austin, Texas is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) research organization founded in 1985 and committed to improving public policies and private practices to better the economic and social conditions of low- and moderate-income Texans. CPPP appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Senate Finance Committee’s May 14, 2009 report, “Expanding Health Care Coverage: Proposals to Provide Affordable Coverage to All Americans.”

How to Improve the Health Insurance Market Using Medical Loss Ratios (05/14/2009)

One in four Texans lacks health insurance. All of us pay for care for the uninsured through taxes and higher health insurance premiums. We need to strengthen our private health insurance market to ensure more of us are covered and all of us are getting the most for our health care dollar. This policy page outlines one way to strengthen our private market"the required disclosure of medical loss ratios. A medical loss ratio is a number calculated by dividing the cost of health insurance claims paid by the amount of health insurance premiums collected to show the percentage of premiums that go to paying for health care rather than insurance company administration and profits. Requiring disclosure of medical loss ratios increases the efficiency of the market by empowering consumers to shop for policies with a better understanding of what they get for their premium dollars. This policy page also discusses how regulators can use medical loss ratios to strengthen the market.

CSHB 2962 by Coleman: CHIP Buy-In and Eligibility System Performance (05/13/2009)

The Texas House’s CHIP Buy-In bill, CSHB 2962 by Coleman, will be voted on by the full House on Thursday, May 14. CSHB 2962 would create a new kind of CHIP coverage for uninsured children with working parents earning between 200-300 percent of the federal poverty level. These families would be able to buy discounted CHIP coverage for their children, paying a “sliding” monthly premium that increases with income. While provisions for a monthly-premium CHIP program for children from 200-300 percent FPL are virtually identical to the Senate’s bill, the House bill includes a limited Full-Cost Buy-In program from 300-400 percent FPL for children who would otherwise lose Medicaid or CHIP due to family income. This compromise addresses technical state agency concerns and may be acceptable in the Senate. This Policy Alert describes differences between SB 841 and CSHB 2962, and provides additional background information on the need for this kind of coverage for uninsured Texas children.

Keep Rider to Use Federal Recovery Funds for 12-Month Children's Medicaid in 2010-2011 Budget, At No Cost to the Bill (05/8/2009)

Conferees deciding the final form of the Texas state budget for 2010-2011 must decide whether or not to keep alive House Rider 52 in Article II, Special Provisions Relating to all HHS agencies, which funds 12-month children’s Medicaid only in 2010-2011, while additional Medicaid funding is available from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

SB 6: Healthy Texas: Testimony to the House Insurance Committee (05/5/2009)

The Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) appreciates this opportunity to testify on SB 6, which will create the Healthy Texas program. With nearly 6 million Texans lacking health insurance coverage and the cost of coverage growing ten times faster than incomes, Texas needs to take bolds steps to confront issues with access to health coverage. Healthy Texas has the potential to put private health insurance coverage within reach of many uninsured Texans working for small employers by addressing the primary barrier to coverage"the high cost of premiums"using a public-private partnership.

SB 1771 Helps More Laid-Off Texans Maintain Coverage: Testimony to the House Insurance Committee (05/5/2009)

The federal economic recovery act includes federal subsidies to help people being laid off buy private health insurance coverage for nine months while seeking new jobs. Under current law, employees laid off from larger companies are already eligible for the subsidy if they lost their job after September 1, 2008. But companies with fewer than 20 employees fall into a different category. For those employees to take full advantage of the health care subsidy, the Legislature must make modest changes to state insurance law that require no General Revenue. SB 1771 makes needed changes and will help keep more Texans covered through the private market instead of joining the growing ranks of the uninsured.

SB 76: Child-Only Group Health Plans: Testimony to the House Insurance Committee (04/28/2009)

CPPP is committed to working for an affordable coverage option for every child in Texas. SB 76 would create new coverage options for some children, but it will also allow the potential substitution of existing adult coverage with coverage for children in some cases. It may also encourage some small employers to drop the plans they offer today for employees and dependents and replace them with plans that cover children only.

SB 206 and 207 Increase Consumer Protections Around Health Insurance Policy Rescissions: Testimony to the Senate State Affairs Committee (04/27/2009)

Consumers expect that when they obtain health insurance, their insurance company has completed all medical underwriting and cleared up any questions about information they provided on the application. Once the policy is in force, consumers expect to be covered according to the terms of their insurance contracts. These expectations are not met when health insurance policies are rescinded"a retroactive cancellation of a policy in force. SB 206 and 207 enhance the Texas Department of Insurance’s ability to monitor rescissions to better protect consumers and decrease insurance industry incentives that could drive up rescission rates.

Comparing Medicaid and CHIP Provisions in Texas House Appropriations Committee and Senate Budget Proposals (04/16/2009)

The Texas Senate approved its version of a 2010-2011 state budget bill, and the full House is expected to debate the House Appropriations Committee’s version of the bill this Friday, April 17 (supplemental appropriations will be debated the day before). Complications caused by the recession and the federal recovery funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) compound the usual challenge of understanding the chambers’ competing funding proposals for Medicaid, CHIP and other health care-related programs. This Policy Page highlights key differences between the chambers’ Medicaid and CHIP proposals, plus selected other health care issues and items missing in both bills.

SB 1257 Increases Protections and Access to Information for Health Insurance Consumers (04/16/2009)

Texas’ commercial health insurance market is considered “healthy” because it has a relatively large number of carriers writing coverage, is subject to a low level of regulation compared to other states, and generates $22 billion in premiums annually. The effect of this market on Texas consumers, however, is anything but healthy. For Texas health insurance consumers, this market produces some of the fastest growing premiums in the nation, one of the lowest rates of coverage through job-based insurance, and small employer premiums as high as $29,000 a year per employee. SB 1257 makes changes in the health insurance market which will allow consumers to maintain coverage during certain disputes with insurers, provide consumers with more information on health insurance, and establish a mechanism to review large rate increases for small employers to ensure they are justified.

CSHB 2453 Helps More Laid-Off Texans Access Federal COBRA Assistance to Maintain Coverage: Testimony to Texas House Insurance Committee (04/14/2009)

The federal economic recovery act includes federal subsidies to help people being laid off buy private health insurance coverage for nine months while seeking new jobs. Under current law, employees laid off from larger companies are already eligible for the subsidy if they lost their job after September 1, 2008. But companies with fewer than 20 employees fall into a different category. For those employees to take full advantage of the health care subsidy, the Legislature must make modest changes to state insurance law that require no General Revenue. HB 2453 makes needed changes and will help keep more Texans covered through the private market instead of joining the growing ranks of the uninsured.

HB 2203--TDI Sunset Bill: Testimony to the Texas House Insurance Committee (04/14/2009)

As the overseer of the insurance market in Texas, the Department of Insurance plays a critical role for the state and its citizens. With one in four Texans lacking health insurance coverage and the cost of coverage increasing ten times faster than incomes, the high cost of health insurance or lack of coverage is something that affects each of us and our communities. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) sunset process provides a much needed opportunity for the Legislature to examine TDI’s role and equip it with the tools needed to not only foster a competitive marketplace, but also to make affordable health insurance available to more Texans.

SB 841 by Averitt: CHIP "Buy-In" Program
for Uninsured Children Above 200% of Poverty
(04/2/2009)

More than half a million uninsured Texas children have incomes above the current limits for CHIP. In addition, children often fall off of the "CHIP cliff," losing their CHIP coverage when their parents' incomes increase by a small amount, even though those earnings are still too low to purchase private coverage. Texas families turn down raises and cut back work hours just to keep their children covered. Through a CHIP buy-in option, SB 841 by Sen. Averitt keeps families from having to choose between slightly more income or their children's health care. SB 841 has a first hearing April 2 in the Senate Finance Committee. This Policy Page describes the bill, including important details of the expected Committee Substitute.

CSSB 1771 Helps More Laid-Off Texans Access Federal COBRA Assistance (04/1/2009)

The federal economic recovery act includes federal subsidies to help people being laid off buy private health insurance coverage for nine months while seeking new jobs. Under current law, employees laid off from larger companies are already eligible for the subsidy if they lost their job after September 1, 2008. But companies with fewer than 20 employees fall into a different category. For those employees to take full advantage of the health care subsidy, the Legislature must make modest changes to state insurance law that require no General Revenue. CSSB 1771 makes needed changes and will help keep more Texans covered through the private market instead of joining the growing ranks of the uninsured.

SB 66, Relating to Health Care Coverage for Children in Title IV-D Cases: Testimony to the Senate State Affairs Committee (03/30/2009)

CPPP offered testimony today on SB 66, a bill which would attempt to provide health insurance coverage through private insurers for children in Title IV-D child support cases. CPPP Executive Director Scott McCown told committee members that the bill might help or hurt low-income families, depending on its implementation.

SB 66, Relating to Health Care Coverage for Children in Title IV-D Cases: Testimony to the Senate State Affairs Committee (03/30/2009)

CPPP offered testimony today on SB 66, a bill which would attempt to provide health insurance coverage through private insurers for children in Title IV-D child support cases. CPPP Executive Director Scott McCown told committee members that the bill might help or hurt low-income families, depending on its implementation.

Action Needed to Help Unemployed Texans Access Health Insurance Assistance in the Recovery Act (03/30/2009)

Only half of Texans get health insurance coverage through an employer"one of the lowest rates in the nation. Access to employer-sponsored health insurance will decline as the recession deepens and companies cut jobs. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (federal economic recovery act) includes a temporary COBRA and state continuation premium reduction to help recently unemployed workers and their families maintain private health insurance coverage while they seek new jobs. However, the Texas Legislature must make modest change to our state insurance laws to help Texans losing job-based coverage maximize federal premium assistance. These changes, which require no state general revenue dollars, will help more Texans keep private health insurance and prevent some Texans from joining the growing ranks of the uninsured.

The Texas Recovery Plan (03/25/2009)

Public structures such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, and Unemployment Insurance were created to help families in tough economic times and to help the economy recover from a down cycle. These are indeed tough times"we face the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Tragically, many Texans are becoming aware for the first time of the crumbling nature of many of our public structures, weakened by years of neglect when times were good. Now that times are tough, we find our systems unprepared. Fortunately, though, the new federal economic recovery law makes resources available to help repair and improve these systems, which will in turn energize economic activity and get Texas on the road to recovery.

But, Texas will only get the federal funds"and the needed improvements to our public structures"if state policymakers make the right choices, soon.

HB 531: Minimum Medical Loss Ratios: Testimony to the House Insurance Committee (03/24/2009)

Consumers and employers deserve to know that their hard-earned money going to health insurance premiums is used by insurance companies primarily for health care costs rather than insurance company administration, marketing, and profits. HB 531 sets standards for how insurance companies use premiums dollars that will introduce a much needed level of accountability and transparency to the health insurance market.

TDI Sunset Bill (SB 1007): Testimony to the Senate Government Organization Committee (03/23/2009)

As the overseer of the insurance market in Texas, the Department of Insurance plays a critical role for the state and its citizens. With one in four Texans lacking health insurance coverage and the cost of coverage increasing ten times faster than incomes, the high cost of health insurance or lack of coverage is something that affects each of us and our communities. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) sunset process provides a much needed opportunity for the Legislature to examine TDI’s role and equip it with the tools needed to not only foster a competitive marketplace, but also to make affordable health insurance available to more Texans.

Child-Only Group Health Plans (SB 76): Testimony to Senate State Affairs (03/19/2009)

CPPP is committed to working for an affordable coverage option for every child in Texas. SB 76 would create new coverage options for some children, but it will also allow the potential substitution of existing adult coverage with coverage for children in some cases. It may also encourage some small employers to drop the plans they offer today for employees and dependents and replace them with plans that cover children only.

Twelve-Month Children's Medicaid: The Right Step for Texas' Neediest Children (03/18/2009)

Long-Term Costs Due to Leaving Kids Uninsured Outweigh Short-Term Savings

The House Human Services Committee will hear seven bills Thursday, March 19, that would extend the coverage period for Texas Children’s Medicaid from the current 6 months to 12 months. This change would benefit Texans from every practical angle:

  • reducing the number of uninsured Texas children by 25 percent; reducing avoidable hospitalizations to cut costs-per-child by about the same amount;
  • improving access to well-child care to improve health and comply with federal court requirements;
  • reducing real taxpayer costs by bringing back federal tax dollars to Texas; and
  • dramatically reducing workloads for Texas’ crisis-ridden eligibility system.

Legislators concerned about the cost of 12-month coverage must look past the state budget bill to consider the huge price paid by Texas taxpayers for costs passed on to local jurisdictions when the state leaves needs unmet and federal dollars on the table. This Policy Page reviews the history of and arguments for 12-month enrollment for children.

High Risk Pool Discount Program (SB 879/ HB 2064): Testimony to the House Insurance and Senate State Affairs Committees (03/18/2009)

The Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool (risk pool) was created by the Legislature to provide health insurance to eligible Texas residents who, due to medical conditions, are unable to obtain health insurance. Because Texas state law allows health insurers to deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions in the individual market, many Texans with medical conditions can only get coverage through the risk pool. Risk pool coverage provides a lifeline to some, but the high cost of risk pool coverage places it out of reach for most Texans. SB 879 and HB 2064 create a sliding scale discount program in the risk pool that will help more low- and moderate-income Texans afford coverage.

High Risk Pool Discount Program (SB 879/ HB 2064): Testimony to the House Insurance and Senate State Affairs Committees (03/18/2009)

The Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool (risk pool) was created by the Legislature to provide health insurance to eligible Texas residents who, due to medical conditions, are unable to obtain health insurance. Because Texas state law allows health insurers to deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions in the individual market, many Texans with medical conditions can only get coverage through the risk pool. Risk pool coverage provides a lifeline to some, but the high cost of risk pool coverage places it out of reach for most Texans. SB 879 and HB 2064 create a sliding scale discount program in the risk pool that will help more low- and moderate-income Texans afford coverage.

FMAP and Health Insurance: Testimony to the House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding (03/12/2009)

Texas is expected to get $5.45 billion in federal funds to help pay for Medicaid through 2011. Congress intended these funds to make sure that in a time of economic hardship when the need is greatest:

  1. states do not cut Medicaid, and
  2. states have extra funds to meet the increased number of uninsured as unemployment rises and incomes decline.

Action Needed to Help Laid-Off Texans Take Full Advantage of COBRA Provisions in ARRA: Testimony to the House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding (03/12/2009)

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) includes federal funds to help people being laid off maintain private health insurance coverage through COBRA and state continuation while seeking new jobs. The Texas Legislature must modify state insurance laws to maximize the coverage options and premium assistance available to Texans losing job-based coverage. These changes, which require no General Revenue, will help keep more Texans covered through the private market instead of joining the growing ranks of the uninsured.

SB 1: Testimony to the Senate Finance Committee (02/16/2009)

Federal Economic Recovery Legislation and Texas (02/13/2009)

Today, Congress released the details of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which provides $789 billion to stimulate the economy. Many of these measures will also help protect vulnerable Texans during this economic downturn. To take full advantage of the benefits in the recovery package and set our economy on the road to recovery, Texas must plan immediately. We applaud Speaker Joe Straus for appointing the Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding, charged with monitoring federal action and suggesting to standing committees needed steps to qualify for federal economic recovery funds. This paper summarizes the portions of the bill that affect the state budget.

Gimme a Q. Gimme an A. Gimme an F. What's That Spell? Health Care! (01/30/2009)

As the national recession deepens, Texas must look for ways to generate needed revenue for vital programs like Medicaid that low- and moderate-income Texas families rely on when they need it most. Implementing a hospital quality assurance fee (QAFs) in Texas could generate nearly a billion dollars in state and federal funding that could be used to increase payment to Medicaid providers and expand coverage to the uninsured.

Economic Recovery Package and SCHIP Reauthorization in Congress: What’s at Stake for Texas Health Care Coverage (01/27/2009)

As reported in our alert dated January 13, 2009, Congress is moving quickly on federal legislation to address the deepening economic downturn, and in separate legislation to reauthorize the funding for the state children’s health insurance program, known in Texas as CHIP. Taken together, these bills include provisions that will make large amounts of additional federal funding available for Texas Medicaid and CHIP. Some of this funding will come to our state without any new action by the Texas Legislature, but substantial proposed health care funds will only be gained if our state passes new laws. This alert describes the major funding proposals, estimated funding benefits to Texas where available, new options requiring state action, and the expected legislative schedules for consideration of the legislation.

Moving Fast in D.C.: CHIP Reauthorization and More Federal Dollars for Texas Medicaid (01/13/2009)

Congress is expected to pass a reauthorization of the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) block grant this week to make it available for the new president’s signature as one of his first acts (this block grant provides the federal share of the Texas Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP). Meanwhile, Congress and the incoming administration are also developing and negotiating a sweeping economic recovery package, now expected to be debated in February. The stimulus package is now expected to include $80 to $100 billion in enhanced Medicaid funding for states over two years. As a result, Texas may receive several billion dollars in additional Medicaid funds for the 2010-2011 state budget. Our Legislature will then decide whether"or not"a portion of those funds is devoted to improving our struggling Medicaid program at a time when families need help more than ever.

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