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Monday, December 13, 2010


Responding to orders from top leaders trying to stanch the impact of the pending $25-billion-plus state budget shortfall, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will chop Medicaid fees to physicians, hospitals, and providers by 1 percent effective Feb. 1. HHSC will cut payments to nursing homes and home health providers by 2 percent. Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and House Speaker Joe Straus asked all state agencies to identify budget savings of 2.5 percent for the rest of fiscal 2011. A previous budget-cutting directive led HHSC to cut Medicaid fees by 1 percent on Sept. 1. “Identifying these savings builds on our ongoing call to keep government spending in check so that we can balance our state budget without raising taxes,” Governor Perry said.The new federal health law will make 1.5 to 2 million more Texans eligible for Medicaid beginning in 2014. Here’s how the report characterizes Texas’ ongoing predicament: “Without significant reform at the federal level, states are left facing a no-win dilemma. Opting out of Medicaid means giving up federal tax dollars paid by the state’s residents to provide health care for our most vulnerable residents. Staying in the program forces states to pay for a federally-mandated expansion of Medicaid with little control over the program’s ever-rising costs, exacerbating an already unsound financial situation.”

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