Health
5:17 pm
Wed September 14, 2011

Report: 41 Percent of Texas Child Cancer Patients Use Medicaid

More than two out of five children with cancer in Texas rely on Medicaid for health care, according to an analysis of Medicaid in Texas by Families USA, a non-profit organization that advocates for affordable health care. The report comes as a showdown looms in Washington over how to manage costs of the chronically underfunded program.

The report says 41 percent of the state’s 4,300 children with cancer receive funding for their treatment through Medicaid. Families USA highlighted how much other people with chronic illnesses rely on the entitlement program.

  • Texans with cancer who rely on Medicaid: 10 percent
  • Texans with diabetes who rely on Medicaid: 16 percent
  • Texans with chronic lung disease who rely on Medicaid: 22 percent
  • Texans with heart disease or stroke who rely on Medicaid: 12 percent

Medicaid advocates say the state-federal program saves governments money in the long run.

“If you pull that rug out from under them, they end up going to the county tax rolls and being part of the indigent healthcare system,” said Joel Romo, an Austin-based government relations director for the American Heart Association. “Our counties and local governments are already suffering budget cuts on their own.”

Families USA is highlighting the role of Medicaid as a federal deficit reduction “super committee” begins pouring over national government spending to find $1.3 trillion in cuts over the next decade. If they can’t do that by the November 23 deadline, deep cuts to domestic and military programs would take effect automatically. Medicare would be protected or “sequestered” from the automatic cuts.

“I don’t think you’re going to see pom-poms about sequestration,” Families USA executive director Ron Pollack told Kaiser Health News. “I fear that if the super committee does come up with a proposal it is very possible that that proposal might include some cost shifts in Medicaid.”

President Obama is expected to unveil a plan next week that would slash hundreds of billions from Medicaid and Medicare. The Congressional Budget Office says without major changes, those two programs will account for 28 percent of all government spending by 2021, the New York Times reported.

In 2008, Texas asked the federal government for a waiver from certain Medicare provisions. The waiver has not been granted. Governor Rick Perry says he would like to see these changes implemented in Texas, which include the use of health savings accounts and premium assistance programs for small employer health benefit plans.