02.03.12

The Texas GOP left a huge hole in the health care budget

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Health Care, The Budget, The Lege at 4:39 pm by wcnews

СВЕТИ ГЕОРГИThe massive hole in the health care budget in Texas is what every Democrat in this state should be running on in 2012.  Along with the massive hole in education funding.  Instead of  funding education and health care adequately, the Texas GOP decided instead to put off paying for them, and left billions in the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF), aka Rainy Day Fund.

Patti Hart has the story, State Commissioner predicts $15 to $17 billion shortfall in Medicaid.

Kudos to the Quorum Report’s John Reynolds for reporting State Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs’ latest prediction on the looming state Medicaid funding shortfall which will have to be addressed by the Legislature when it meets in January 2013.

As has been widely reported, the Texas Legislature passed a so-called “balanced” budget by intentionally under-funding the Medicaid program by $4.5 billion, essentially choosing to postpone payment of that bill until 2013. Now, escalating caseload growth will bump that figure into the atmosphere, Suehs told hospital administrators in a speech Wednesday.

The Texas GOP made a calculated, political, decision last year. They followed the lead of Gov. Rick Perry and the new tea party legislators, for a chance that it might get Perry being elected President. Oops! While these numbers are bad, the situation is not hopeless.

And the result of this GOP mismanagement should make it easy for any Democrat to show a clear contrast. Our health care system and education system are essential to a prosperous future for Texas. And that the Texas GOP is willing to risk them both should speak for itself.

There’s some very wishful writing in the QR piece referred to by Hart, this part in particular:

Some context is probably needed at this point. Lawmakers won’t need to find $17 billion in new revenue to cover the new costs laid out by Suehs today. For instance, many lawmakers are already expecting to spend a chunk of the Rainy Day Fund (expected balance, $7 billion) to cover the current Medicaid shortfall. [Emphasis added]

It’s hard to believe that Gov. Rick Perry and the legislature will vote to spend that money. Unless there is a big change in the partisan balance in the Texas House next legislative session. It’s possible Perry comes back to Texas less “wing-nutty” then when he left. And the Democrats gaining 10 or 15 seats in the House would give him and the GOP an excuse to change their stance on the ESF. But that’s wishful thinking too. The CPPP’s McCown says best what is needed.

But a hard pushback against any new revenue from some quarters will mean that reform has to be gradual, says F. Scott McCown, a retired state district judge who now heads the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin based think tank that tracks issues important for low and modest income Texans.

“Those of us who love Texas are in it for the long haul. We are not going to fix this problem overnight,” McCown says. “But the truth is that our long-term prosperity depends upon a strong education system. We are not putting the money in that we need to ensure that our children and grandchildren are going to have good jobs and be competitive.” [Emphasis added]

Some contend that it doesn’t cost to educate a child; it pays.

Yes, it’s a long way back.  It’s going to take a long time to repair the damage that’s been done, more than one election cycle. Some restoration of adequate funding to our education and health care systems must be the first priority in the next legislature. And the best way to insure that would be voting in new faces in the Texas legislature in 2012.

Further Reading:
State rules for health care complicates lives, industry.
We Won! HHS Denies Texas Waiver Request on 80-20 Rule.
Here’s what Harvey Kronberg at QR had to say about the HHS shortfall.

Twenty four hours later, Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs told hospital administrators at their convention (at the other end of the Austin Convention Center) that the state was facing yet another substantial shortfall in Medicaid funding next session: between $15-$17 billion and that is before any accommodations to theAffordable Care Bill. Five billion of that came from the hot check (my language, not his) the Lege wrote last session to “fund” Medicaid to the last part of the biennium. Since the Rainy Day Fund was untouchable last session, lawmakers passed a mythological budget that has to be paid for by the next Legislature. [Emphasis added]

Pretty damned fiscally responsible if you ask me.

1 Comment »

  1. Eye on Williamson » Perry trying to stay relevant, shake lame duck label said,

    February 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    [...] can only assume that “work” includes further destruction of public education and gutting of Medicare. Texas faces a number of its own challenges in the wake of a budget shortfall that led to billions [...]

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