Tags: Healthcare Reform | texas | medicaid | reform | Charles Schwertner | obamacare

Texas GOP Renews Call for Right to Overhaul Medicaid

By    |   Tuesday, 03 March 2015 07:27 AM

Texas Republicans are demanding that their state be allowed to make far-reaching changes in how its Medicaid program is operated, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Roughly 29 percent of the total state budget goes for Medicaid, according to The Texas Tribune. This has led Republican lawmakers to repeatedly call for the freedom to revamp the system.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the state Senate's 20 Republicans wrote to President Barack Obama asking to be able to "manage our own Medicaid" rather than be hamstrung by "overreaching federal mandates," the Morning News reported.

"The federal government has been very unwilling to work with increased flexibility," said state Sen. Charles Schwertner. He said greater state authority could allow Texas to cut costs perhaps by requiring co-payments from enrollees, health savings accounts, and "work requirements for able-bodied adults."

Only about 150,000 of the 4 million Texans on Medicaid are thought to be able-bodied, working-age adults. The state's Medicaid program covers mostly poor children, pregnant women, the elderly and disabled adults, according to former state Medicaid official Anne Dunkelberg, the Morning News reported.

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to provide expanded state Medicaid coverage for about 1 million uninsured adults who are able-bodied. But Texas rejected federal incentives to expand its Medicaid program on the grounds that such a move was not fiscally sustainable. Medicaid expansion is in effect in 28 states.

Schwertner said that Medicaid is "broken and ailing" and saps the legislature's ability to pay for education, law enforcement, and infrastructure. He characterized federal Medicaid matching dollars as "gold-plated handcuffs that stand in the way of common sense [and] conservative reforms that could otherwise help contain these exploding costs," according to the News.

He ruled out Medicaid expansion "until we receive the kind of flexibility we are calling for today," the Morning News reported.

Texas doctors who treat Medicaid patients said that they are being reimbursed at about 65 percent of what they would get under Medicare. Fewer Texas doctors are willing to accept new Medicaid patients, according to the Tribune.

The Texas Constitution caps most spending of state tax revenue. The legislature is currently debating the 2016-17 budget.

State officials have been trying since at least 2008 to take greater control of Medicaid spending. Their efforts have been repeatedly rebuffed by federal officials, the Tribune reported.

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Texas Republicans are demanding that President Obama give them the right to "manage our own Medicaid" and make far-reaching changes to the costly state-federal program that aids mostly the poor, elderly and disabled, The Dallas Morning News reported.
texas, medicaid, reform, Charles Schwertner, obamacare
Tuesday, 03 March 2015 07:27 AM
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