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You think there might be a connection there?

In the middle of this Trib story about the Driver Responsibility Program and the Lege’s efforts to reform it comes a reminder about the relationship between federal and state legislation.

Denise Rose, senior director of government relations at the Texas Hospital Association, says she doesn’t anticipate the new rules will have a large fiscal impact on the Driver Responsibility Program. “The state’s only collecting a third of the surcharges that are out there, so I don’t know that it’s going to make a huge dent,” she says. Even if the state isn’t collecting all it could, she says, the hospital trauma centers that get the money badly need it. Since 2004, Texas trauma centers have received some $380 million from driver surcharges, which helps pay for care provided to uninsured patients. “It seems like a lot of money, but hospitals have reported in the same time frame close to over $1 billion in uncompensated trauma care,” Rose says. Though hospitals acknowledge the surcharge program is not ideal, Rose says they’d rather see it fixed than eliminated. “If the state was funding uncompensated trauma care in a different way, there wouldn’t be a need for things like the Driver Responsibility Program,” she says. “But that’s a whole a different argument.”

Emphasis mine. The Affordable Care Act, which will provide insurance for those trauma victims for which these hospitals have been providing uncompensated care, will do more to close that gap than anything the Lege can or will do. You would think the state of Texas would be happier about that. Here was the federal government finally stepping up to solve a federal problem that was having an outsized impact on state and local governments. The lack of action by the federal government on a similar problem that’s theirs to solve – comprehensive immigration reform – is frequently cited these days (usually by Republicans) as justification for states taking that matter into their own hands. Yet what’s the reaction of these same Republican legislators to this great achievement by the federal government, which among many other things will solve problems like these? Why, they want to repeal it, to file lawsuits against it, to pass laws forbidding their states from recognizing it. One might think they’re not really all that concerned about the federal government solving problems. Funny how these things work, isn’t it?

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