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Monday, December 6, 2010

REPORT: TEXAS SHOULD CHANGE MEDICAID, NOT DROP IT

Texas shouldn’t — and can’t afford to — drop out of Medicaid, concludes a long-awaited report (PDF) from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and the Texas Department of Insurance. If Texas were to leave Medicaid, the report concludes, up to 2.6 million Texans could lose health coverage, and physicians and providers in the state would lose $15 billion a year in federal aid. But current Medicaid spending patterns are unsustainable, and neither the report’s authors nor Gov. Rick Perry is satisfied with the status quo. “Texas, the states and the federal government would be much better served by increasing flexibility and innovation in Medicaid, even block granting funds to the states, so we can tailor Medicaid dollars to best serve the needs of Texas patients, families and taxpayers,” the governor said in a statement. “I have discussed these issues with other governors and policy experts, and will be working on ways to improve the utilization of Medicaid dollars in Texas.”

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.”

TMA will work with Governor Perry, legislative leaders, the Texas congressional delegation, and Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs to devise plans that trim Medicaid spending while providing cost-effective care to Medicaid recipients and adequate compensation to Texas physicians and providers in Texas.

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