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Monday, June 6, 2011

SPECIAL SESSION ROARS THROUGH HEALTH ITEMS

When lawmakers started picking up the pieces in the special session Gov. Rick Perry called, TMA was there picking up our pace from the regular session. Asa Lockhart, MD, chair of TMA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Accountable Care Organizations, testified before the Senate Finance Committee in support of Senate Bill 7, the omnibus health care bill that rolls up many measures from the regular session. SB 7 would create new health care collaboratives in Texas and reduce costs in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) is sponsoring SB 7; Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton), is the sponsor of House Bill 7, its counterpart across the rotunda. We’re also watching SB 5 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Southside Place) that would establish the Interstate Health Care Compact to petition the federal government to block-grant all federal funding to the states for health care services. A similar bill in the House, HB 13 by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), calls for the development of a Section 1115 federal waiver (block grant) to give Texas greater flexibility in the design and operation of the Medicaid program. TMA submitted written comments to the House Appropriations Committee on HB 13. We emphasized our concerns about whether Texas could secure enough funding to cover not only annual medical inflation but also caseload growth.

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