Medicaid

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Governor Perry’s decision not to accept federal expansion of Medicaid in Texas means 687,000 women will be left in a "coverage gap," according to a report by the National Women’s Law Center. Those women are too poor to qualify for Medicaid, but don’t make enough money to be eligible for subsidies on the federal health insurance exchange. 

Medicaid eligibility standards in Texas are among the strictest in the nation. A parent in a family of three must make less than $3,737 annually to qualify (19 percent of the federal poverty level), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Adults without dependent children are not eligible for Medicaid in Texas. 

Nathan Bernier/KUT

Texas is failing in several categories when it comes to its emergency care environment, at least according to a report card from the American College of Emergency Physicians.   

Based near Dallas, the physicians group grades states each year on their emergency care environment.

This year, Texas gets an F, ranking 47th in the nation, for access to emergency care.

Oregon might be seen as a complete failure or a surprising success when it comes to its health insurance exchange.

One the one hand, the state's website has yet to allow a single person to enroll. That's a big problem for the folks who are hoping to qualify for subsidies and buy insurance that will start Jan. 1.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

With all of the attention on the health care marketplace website problems, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in Austin today for some damage control. 

Sebelius went to CommUnityCare’s East Austin Health Center, where she promised that problems with healthcare.gov and its Spanish-language version will get fixed.

She also praised mayors across Texas for supporting Medicaid expansion, and urged state leaders to join them.

"I’m hoping that Texas takes another look at that opportunity because there will be millions of people still left on the side of the road with no affordable options," Sebelius said.

flickr.com/sharynmorrow

Although the Affordable Care Act is now the law of the land, the fight is far from over. Yesterday's launch of insurance marketplace websites saw some hiccups, including long wait times as people jammed onto the sites to sign up for coverage.

Now, the state says, there's another problem: for some families, using the marketplace sites could lead to a delay in children’s healthcare coverage.

flickr.com/nodivision

Reducing the high school dropout rate in Texas by 50 percent could save the state $547 million in Medicaid spending annually, according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education

The study finds raising education-attainment levels could reduce health-related costs – specifically surrounding obesity, tobacco and alcohol use and heart disease. 

"An educated citizen is a healthy, productive and happier citizen," Bob Wise, president of Alliance for Excellent Education, said in a statement released Wednesday.

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Health care protestors who interrupted Gov. Rick Perry during a speech yesterday afternoon were surprised that he offered to meet with them in exchange for letting him continue his talk.   

Gov. Perry has called Medicaid “broken” and a “fool’s errand.” Despite his adamant stance against expanding the entitlement program, at least 20 protesters with the Texas Organizing Project wanted to discuss it with him.

Andrew Weber for KUT News

A Texas advocacy group took some less than subtle steps today to get a meeting with the governor.

Members from the healthcare advocacy group Texas Organizing Project interrupted Gov. Rick Perry multiple times during a speech at the Texas Global Business Summit this afternoon, repeating a call for Texas to accept federal Medicaid dollars.

Texas Tribune

Medicaid expansion in Texas: we’ve highlighted the topic a couple of times during the legislative session. From those hoping to pick up Medicaid coverage, to lawmakers for and against Texas joining in the Affordable Care Act program.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Negotiations with the federal government to expand Medicaid in Texas are at a standstill, according to the head of the state’s health agency, because he’s waiting on the Legislature to give him direction.

“If I were to go up and say, ‘Oh what if we try this or try that,’ only to come back and find that that very day the Legislature had passed legislation saying, ‘You may not talk about that,’” Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek said at a TribLive event held by our political reporting partner the Texas Tribune, “it would be a waste of my time to start negotiating pieces.”

Nathan Bernier/KUT

A bill approved today by a Texas House committee would help insure the roughly 6 million Texas residents who don’t have coverage, but not in the way envisioned by the federal Affordable Care Act.

State Rep.  John Zerwas, R-Simonton, says his bill is what he calls a “Texas” solution to the health insurance gap. He adamantly says he’s not for Medicaid expansion.

"To put a million and a half people into the current Medicaid program and expect we’re going to be able to serve those people with a very fragile provider network is just totally wrong," Zerwas said.

Andrew Weber for KUT News

Nursing home professionals from all over Texas gathered today at the Capitol, asking lawmakers to expand Medicaid funding to care for more of the state’s seniors.

Paul Gerharter is director of nursing at Touchstone Communities, a provider of nursing home care in Central and South Texas. He says state budgets have lessened the number of nursing homes in the midst of a growing need for long-term care.

Todd Wiseman via Texas Tribune

In the midst of debate on the 2014-15 budget, the House quietly approved an amendment on Thursday that would open the door to negotiations on expanding Medicaid, a key provision of federal health reform. The amendment requires the Health and Human Services Commission to develop a plan to create more efficient health care options for Medicaid populations if the state chooses to draw down federal financing to expand Medicaid eligibility.

Filipa Rodrigues

While Gov. Rick Perry spoke early in the day, protesters with the Texas Organizing Project shouted slogans in support of Medicaid expansion.

Republican U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz lined up alongside the Governor to speak against Medicaid expansion. Sen. Cornyn said expanding Medicaid rolls in Texas could add to the national deficit, leaving Texas alone to handle costs.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: The biggest Republicans in Texas stood side-by-side today and argued against expanding Texas Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said it doesn’t matter if the federal government has offered to cover the full cost of the expansion for the first three years and 90 percent thereafter.

Flickr user Images of Money, bit.ly/LeSsiT

Texas is trying to help some Medicaid recipients with behavioral disorders improve their health. 

The state’s health department has embarked on a $10 million dollar project aimed at preventing people with mental health or substance abuse issues from developing chronic diseases.

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate unanimously approved an overhaul of long-term and acute care Medicaid services on Monday in an effort to expand care to more disabled Texans while saving millions of state dollars.

“We cannot continue to fund the same inefficient, unsustainable long-term care system and expect a different result,” said Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, the author of Senate Bill 7.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The state of Texas has not joined in the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. At the Conservative Political Action Conference late last week, Gov. Rick Perry said he would not let Texas join the expansion unless the federal government tailored the program for this state.

Perry gave a list of requirements for Texas to join the Medicaid expansion. Many were items he’s demanded in the past, but one in particular caught the ear of those who support expansion.

“We need to asset-test to make sure care is there for those who really need it most,” Perry said at CPAC.

Texas Tribune

The state of Texas has not joined in the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. At the Conservative Political Action Conference late last week, Governor Rick Perry said he would not let Texas join the expansion unless the Federal government tailored the program for this state.

When Governor Perry spoke at CPAC last week, he gave a list of requirements for Texas to join in Medicaid expansion. Many were items he’s demanded in the past, but one in particular caught the ear of those who support expansion.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

A report released today by the Texas Public Policy Foundation criticizes the state’s Medicaid program, calling its access to healthcare providers “inadequate” and its health outcomes “poor.”

Gov. Rick Perry has refused to accept federal money to expand access to Medicaid, citing much the same reasons.

Perry says he would prefer a “block grant” of the federal money, allowing Texas to decide how best to spend it.

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