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Posts Tagged ‘John Zerwas’

Budget deal reached

The one bill that must get passed is on its way. After months of private squabbling and public threats of a legislative overtime session, the Texas House and Senate finally compromised to unveil a joint budget late Saturday. Lawmakers, scrounging for cash in a tight-fisted legislative session, agreed to dip into the state’s savings account […]

Making vaccination information public

I support this. While most parents in Texas vaccinate their children, the number of parents opting out of immunizations for non-medical reasons is on the rise. Since Texas changed its laws to allow parents to opt out citing a conscientious objection, the number of unvaccinated children has shot up more than 1,700 percent in 13 […]

House passes its budget

Mostly shenanigan-free, with a nice little side order of shade for a few people who deserve it. After 15 and a half hours of debate on hundreds of amendments to the Texas House budget, lawmakers in the lower chamber passed the two-year, $218 billion document, with 131 votes in favor and 16 votes against. The […]

Senate passes its budget

It’s the one bill that has to pass. The Texas Senate unanimously approved a two-year budget on Tuesday that would shift nearly $2 billion in public education costs from the state to local taxpayers. The Senate’s $218 billion document now goes to budget writers in the House for debate. “This is a lean budget, but […]

House considers a bigger ask from the Rainy Day Fund

Needs must, as they say. The proposal from state Rep. John Zerwas, a Richmond Republican and the House’s chief budget writer, would withdraw about $2.4 billion from the Rainy Day Fund as part of a supplemental budget to pay bills coming due for programs like Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor and disabled, […]

Bill to restore some budget flexibility filed

Call it the Law of Unintended Consequences Act of 2017. The Texas House’s chief budget writer filed legislation Friday that would allow lawmakers to claw back billions of dollars that voters approved for state highways, freeing them up for other budget needs. Texans overwhelmingly voted in 2015 to boost funding for the state’s public roadways […]

Zerwas proposes using Rainy Day Fund

We’ll see if this goes anywhere. The chief budget writer in the Texas House on Friday proposed using $1.4 billion from the state’s savings account to pay bills coming due for a wide array of the state’s health and human services programs. The proposal from state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, would continue pay raises for […]

Precinct analysis: Fort Bend State Rep districts

Following on from yesterday’s post, here’s a look at the vote in Fort Bend from the perspective of the State Rep districts. Office Rep Dem Rep % Dem % =============================================== President 35,005 31,558 52.59% 47.41% CJ, 1st CofA 40,047 28,336 58.56% 41.44% 1st CofA #4 39,311 28,940 57.60% 42.40% 14th CofA #2 39,351 28,873 57.68% […]

House approves limited medical marijuana bill

And there it is. On a 96-34 vote, the House passed Senate Bill 339, from state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, which would legalize oils containing CBD, a non-euphoric component of marijuana known to treat epilepsy and other chronic medical conditions. If the House gives final passage in a follow-up vote, the measure will be Gov. […]

Call to action: DREAM Act repeal hearing set for Monday

You know the drill. The push to repeal a 2001 law that allows some undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities is returning to the legislative spotlight, but on an unusual stage. On Monday, the border security subcommittee of the Senate’s Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee is scheduled to hear […]

Texas Obamacare enrollments top 850K

And counting. Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services Wednesday announced nearly 860,000 Texans so far have enrolled in health insurance marketplace coverage with a month left still left to go until the 2015 open enrollment period ends. It’s unclear how many of those signups are new marketplace customers. Last year, nearly 734,000 […]

What’s the Lege going to do with the revenue?

Not as much as it should, of course, because the Lege never comes close to doing as much as it should. It’s a question of whether they’ll try to address some real problems, or just engage in an orgy of tax cutting. Texans can expect tax relief, a laser focus on border security and more […]

It’s still not Medicaid expansion

The Legislature may do something that could sort of be called “Medicaid expansion”, if only for lack of a better term, but we would all do well to remain deeply skeptical of what they might consider. The once taboo subject of expanding Medicaid in Texas has been broached in recent weeks by some Republicans and […]

Expand Medicaid or else

Turns out the federal government has more leverage over Texas than you might think. If Texas wants to keep receiving billions of federal dollars to help hospitals care for uninsured patients, state lawmakers may have to look again at expanding Medicaid coverage for impoverished adults, some political observers say. That’s because in 2016, Texas will […]

LVdP for Medicaid expansion

No surprise here. Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte vowed to overturn Republican opposition to expanding the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act if elected lieutenant governor, saying the state should act to protect poor, uninsured adults. The San Antonio Democrat’s “Texas First Health Care Plan,” which she announced Friday at the […]

Don’t sweat that court ruling on Obamacare tax credits just yet

It’s too soon to say what effect, if any will be felt in Texas. Opposing rulings from two federal courts Tuesday left unclear the future prospects of federal financial aid to Texans who qualify for assistance to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled […]

More on Texas Left Me Out

The Observer reports on the launch of Texas Left Me Out. Members of the coalition pointed to two different studies that estimate that thousands of uninsured Texans with chronic conditions are likely to die as a result of not expanding Medicaid. A Harvard University/CUNY study released last week predicts between 1,840 to 3,035 deaths. Another study, by a […]

Arkansas will expand Medicaid

If they can do it… [Friday], the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services notified state officials in Arkansas that it has approved the states’ Medicaid expansion plan. And this is not any old expansion plan: Arkansas will be the only state in the country that will use Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for […]

Texas really needs Obamacare

We’ve always known that Texas would be a huge beneficiary of the Affordable Care Act because of our huge volume of uninsured people, but this quantifies it in a way that really brings it home. Texas is home to more than two-thirds of the nation’s 30 counties most in need of expanded health insurance coverage, […]

Medicaid expansion is now double secret illegal

Whatever. In a surprise turn in the House on Monday evening, a bill to reform Medicaid long-term and acute care services became a vehicle for the GOP’s platform against Medicaid expansion. “Many of us are very weary of Medicaid expansion,” said state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, who offered an amendment to Senate Bill 7 that […]

Maybe I buried Medicaid expansion too soon

I still think it’s dead, but I could be wrong about that. The fate of Medicaid reform in Texas could rest solely on an up-or-down vote on the 2014-15 budget. State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, a member of the conference committee that is hashing out the differences between the House and Senate budget plans, said […]

Medicaid “expansion” likely dead

The calendar is a harsh mistress. The House’s lead health care budget writer says his bill to force Gov. Rick Perry’s administration to explore the potential for a “Texas solution” on Medicaid expansion is dead. Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, said Tuesday that his bill outlining an expansion of coverage for poor adults using private insurance, […]

Weekend legislative threefer

That sound you heard on Friday was Rick Perry stamping his feet if he doesn’t get his way. Gov. Rick Perry is warning state legislators that it could be a long, hot summer in Austin if they don’t pass his top priorities: funding water and transportation projects and cutting business taxes. With a month left […]

Medicaid “expansion” bill passes out of House committee

Forgive me for tempering my excitement about this, but it’s not that much to be excited about. Despite opposition from conservative Republicans, the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday advanced a proposal that would reform Medicaid by allowing the state to request a block grant from the federal government and expand coverage to low-income Texans. “This […]

What Obamacare will do for Texas

Even without Medicaid expansion, the Affordable Care Act will help millions of Texans get access to health care. Nearly 2.6 million Texans could qualify for tax credits to purchase health insurance in 2014, according to a report released Thursday by Families USA, a nonprofit that advocates for health care consumers. The tax credits will be […]

House discusses Medicaid expansion

Sounds like a sincere effort, though whether it can get anywhere is an open question. Amid hours of testimony from advocates in support of Medicaid expansion on Tuesday, state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, described his proposal to create an alternative program that could draw down federal financing to provide health coverage for poor and uninsured […]

Williams’ “Medicaid” plan

I’m really not sure what to make of this. State Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, is crafting a Medicaid reform plan that would use premium tax revenue to subsidize private health plans for uninsured Texans, his office confirmed on Tuesday night. Gary Scharrer, a spokesman for Williams, said the proposal is “still a concept,” one […]

The limits of the Arkansas option

I’ve mentioned the Arkansas option for expanding Medicaid several times, under which the state uses Medicaid money to buy private health insurance for those who would be eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. It’s not my preferred solution, but it has some merits and would certainly be better than doing nothing. However, while […]

The politics of refusing Medicaid expansion

Ron Brownstein posits that by his stubborn and increasingly isolated resistance to Medicaid expansion, including via the Arkansas option, Rick Perry is putting Republicans in electoral danger in Texas. Brownstein runs through the economic arguments and touches on the legislative action so far, then gets to the big finish: Rejecting the federal money might not […]

You can present that “Texas solution” any time now

State Rep. John Zerwas takes to the op-ed pages to assure us that yes, the Republicans really truly do want to do something about the vast number of uninsured people in this state if only they are given the freedom to do it their way. The Texas Medicaid program as it presently exists has reached […]

Straus wants someone to do something on Medicaid

Don’t we all, Joe. Don’t we all. Seeking to light a fire under fellow Republicans to provide health care to more uninsured Texans, House Speaker Joe Straus said Wednesday that it is time to “get our heads out of the sand” and find an alternative to Medicaid expansion that would bring billions of federal dollars […]

You can’t undo the damage to women’s health

At the very end of this story, in which Rep. John Zerwas and Sen. Charles Schwertner, both of whom are physicians in real life, say that they (mostly) stand with Rick Perry on not expanding Medicaid, they also say this: Regarding the budget cuts in the last legislative session to family planning and women’s health […]

Medicaid expansion pressure is having an effect

Despite the mountains of evidence in its favor, I still can’t say that I see a path to Medicaid expansion in Texas. But stories like this do give me some hope. Adamantly opposed to expanding Medicaid coverage under President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst had seemingly […]

January finance reports for area legislative offices

Just to complete the tour of semiannual finance reports, here’s a look at the cash on hand totals for area legislators. First up, the Harris County House delegation. Patricia Harless, HD126 – $308,221 Dan Huberty, HD127 – $69,058 Wayne Smith, HD128 – $218,425 John Davis, HD129 – $99,962 Allen Fletcher, HD130 – $46,559 Alma Allen, […]