Hard to know what the effect of this will be.
Texas lawmakers passed major changes to Medicaid on Wednesday that would privatize the health program in South Texas and allow the formation of health care cooperatives.
The 142-page measure is part of a special legislative session. The Legislative Budget Board says it could save the state $467 million, almost two-thirds of that from Medicaid savings. Medicaid is a joint state and federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled.
“It’s a big bill and it tries to do a lot of things, it really is transformative,” said Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, who authored the bill.
The bill passed 91-47, largely along party lines with Democrats opposing it. After a final procedural vote, the measure goes back to the Senate today for consideration of the small changes made by amendments.
Among the amendments that passed:
— Republican Rep. Lois Kolkhorst’s bills seeking a health care compact (a partnership with other states to take control of Medicaid and Medicare) and asking the Obama administration for a waiver to operate Medicaid as Texas sees fit (which the federal government is highly unlikely to ever grant). Both bills are also stand-alones that are being considered in the House and Senate.
— Republican Rep. Wayne Christian’s bill that would ban hospital districts from using local tax revenue to fund abortions, except in emergency situations — or else risk losing state funding.
— Republican Rep. Bryan Hughes’ proposal to limit the state family planning funds received by Planned Parenthood, and Rep. Bill Zedler’s measure to force physicians who provide abortions to collect more data on their patients.
It’s always a good time to give the women of the state another kick in the gut. As for the Medicaid waivers, recall that the Bush administration had previously said no to them. Good luck with that.
If all of the projections for savings pan out, that’ll be $467 million the state won’t need to spend. That’s not nothing, but it’s less than ten percent of the amount the Lege shortchanged Medicaid, and given that the budget assumes that impossible request for a waiver will be granted (at a savings of $700 million), I wouldn’t be surprised if this is already built in, too. They can dance as fast as they want to, it’ll only get them so far.