Medicaid in Texas is facing possible cuts from both the state and federal governments.
According to health care advocates, the Texas Senate is proposing a budget that underfunds Medicaid by at least $1.9 billion.
Republican leaders in Congress last night revealed a replacement to Obamacare that caps Medicaid funding to states by how many people they have enrolled, which could mean less funding for Medicaid in Texas from the program’s federal partner.
That has caused anxiety about the future of Medicaid in Texas, especially among families who have been relying on various services from the program.
“Medicaid has really saved my family’s life,” said Kate Robinson, a mother of a small child with special medical needs. “Without Medicaid we would have surely lost our home.”
Robinson’s 2-year-old son, Apollo, was born with serious defects to his esophagus and his airway.
The beginning of his life has been full of surgeries in different hospitals across the country. Robinson says her son still needs a lot of that care. He’s in a special program within Medicaid that provides all of these services.
“These are things that affect his life dramatically and our ability to parent, dramatically, and to work,” she said.
Nurses, therapy providers and medical equipment are all provided through Medicaid right now. Robinson says it’s helping her family stay afloat, so she’s taking threats to that program very seriously.
Robinson was among hundreds of folks gathered at a health care rally at the Texas Capitol on Monday. She told the crowd she is prepared to do everything she can to make sure Medicaid remains a safety net for vulnerable people in the state.
But the services that children like Apollo rely on right now, including the early childhood intervention program (ECI), have already been drastically cut by Texas lawmakers.
Robinson says that program helped improve Apollo’s ability to communicate, as well as his ability to do simple physical motions, like sit up.
At Monday’s rally, health care advocates like Melissa McChesney with the Center for Public Policy Priorities told the crowd she can’t imagine where further cuts to the state program will even come from.
“We ask our leaders, ‘Who do you plan to cut?’ Low-income children? Seniors? People with disabilities? Pregnant women?” she asked. “This is not a program that we want to see cuts to. This is a program that is the building block for the next generation.”
Roughly 45 percent of children in Texas are on Medicaid.
Robinson says talk of possible cuts at the federal level, on top of state cuts, are really adding up for parents whose children are in that 45 percent.
“I have these two children who are relying on me to not be devastated and to figure it out and to advocate,” Robinson said. “And so that’s what we are doing. But the federal piece of this has added a layer of stress to a lot of families with children with special needs that is unconscionable and so unfair.”
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has said he would like to reverse the ECI cuts in a supplemental budget during the current legislative session.
So far, though, the Texas Senate budget doesn’t include that reversal. In fact, according to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the Texas Senate budget falls almost $2 billion short in funding Medicaid and also includes an across-the-board budget cut.
However, at this point, the budget isn’t final.