Mar 24, 2011

Senate Panel Votes to Trim Planned Medicaid Pay Cut

TMA Legislative News Hotline

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Health and Human Services cuts: Last week, Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville), chair of the Senate Finance Subcommittee for Medicaid, asked Tom Suehs, executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), to develop a list of the top funding priorities necessary to for the state. After receiving the commissioner’s recommendations, the subcommittee divided the list into two levels of priority for funding. Priority 2 items are on the committee’s “wish list,” meaning they will be funded if dollars become available. Here are the items from the list that the subcommittee approved this morning:

HHSC (Priority 1):
  • Restore 7 percent of the proposed 10-percent cut to physician payments in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This means physicians would face a 3-percent cut, instead of 10 percent. The 3-percent cut would apply for all adult and children’s services.
  • Stop paying coinsurance for patients who receive coverage from Medicaid and Medicare (dual eligibles) if the coinsurance would exceed the Medicaid rate.
  • Restore 5 percent of the proposed 10-percent cut to hospitals and other providers.
  • Reduce funding for labs and durable medical equipment providers by 20 percent, with the goal of mitigating those cuts by half if funds become available.
  • Approve continuation of the Women’s Health Program, pending passage of legislation to extend program beyond 2011.
  • Fund Medicaid caseload growth.
  • Priority 2: Restore partial funding to Medicaid utilization.
Department of State Health Services (Priority 1):
  • Restore full funding for community-based mental health services and crisis services for adults and children,
  • Restore funding for mental health hospitals,
  • Initiate “Healthy Babies” programs to help reduce prematurity and birth trauma, and
  • Fund targeted initiatives to reduce preventable hospitalizations and health care- associated infections.
  • Priority 2: Add $13 million for tobacco cessation and full funding for human immunodeficiency virus medications.
Department of Aging and Disability Services (Priority 1):
  • Restore 7 percent of home and community care provider rates, and
  • Restore 5 percent of nursing home rates.
Department of Family and Protective Services (Priority 1): Restore full funding for foster care caseload growth and eliminate cuts to foster care providers.

House Bill 1: Here is a copy of the 2012-13 budget proposal, HB 1, approved by the Texas House Appropriations Committee yesterday. The budget bill likely will hit the House floor on April 1 to begin debate.

The Texas House passed the voter ID bill last night on second reading. The Senate passed its version of the bill in January. Senate Bill 14 by Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) and sponsored by Rep. Patricia Harless (R-Spring) would require Texans to show a valid photo ID — such as a driver license or state-issued ID card, a military ID, or a passport — to vote. Once the bill passes on third reading, it will be sent back to the Senate, where the author can either accept the House changes or request a conference committee to work out differences between the two versions of the bill.

The House Redistricting Committee will meet today and Friday to hear testimony on potential State Board of Education districts in light of the 2010 census data. Here are the redistricting maps and Census Bureau demographics. Stay tuned.

The physician of the day at the capitol is Tamara Dominguez, MD, of San Antonio. Dr. Dominguez has practiced family medicine for 13 years. She graduated from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 1994. Dr. Dominguez is a member of the American Medical Association, TMA, and the Bexar County Medical Society.

Tell us your story. TMA wants to capture your story on video. Tell us why you decided to become a physician. What day did you leave your office or hospital and say to yourself, “Now, that’s why I became a physician”? Tell us what your profession means to you. Check out “physician moments” from some of your colleagues.

Register today for First Tuesdays at the Capitol on April 5.

House panel OKs budget that spends less than current budget (Austin-American Statesman)
UPDATED: Texans deeply divided as health care reform law marks one-year anniversary
(Houston Chronicle)

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