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Monday, January 24, 2011

STARK BUDGET DRAFT SLASHES STATE HEALTH PROGRAMS

As promised, Texas House of Representatives leaders unveiled a 2012-13 state budget that balances without new taxes or any help from the Rainy Day Fund. Instead, they filled the $30 billion shortfall with steep spending cuts. As health care makes up a big chunk of state spending, it would take its share of cuts under the House draft. Among the ill-advised proposals:


  • This would be in addition to the 1-percent cut that hit in September 2010 and the 1-percent cut slated for Feb. 1.
  • Eliminating the Physician Education Loan Repayment Program, Family Medicine Residency Program, General Internal Medicine Statewide Preceptorship Program, Texas Statewide Family Medicine Preceptorship Program, and General Pediatric Preceptorship Program.
  • Lifting — at least in part — the ban on hospitals directly hiring physicians.
  • Allowing advanced practice nurses to prescribe certain drugs.
The House plan does include some solid cost-cutting proposals that we can support — provided they get the details right. These include:

  • Redirecting Medicaid patients with nonemergency conditions from the emergency room to a clinic, and
  • Expanding a program that uses preventive screenings to avoid pregnancy-related Medicaid costs.
Senate leaders are expected to release their own draft spending plan this week.

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