HHS Chief Hawkins Gets Through Nominations Committee

Posted in Health Care, Privatization, 80th Legislature, Around The State at 11:59 am by wcnews

AAS has this story, Senate panel approves Hawkins. Here’s what some Senators had to say:

Chairman Mike Jackson, who said Hawkins was a scapegoat for senators’ anger at the governor, has said he postponed the vote to seek unanimous support for Hawkins, which didn’t happen.

On Wednesday, several senators told Hawkins that he needs to better communicate with the Legislature.

Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, who opposed the reappointment, questioned Hawkins about the troubled call centers that enrolled Texans in programs such as food stamps and Medicaid. He asked the executive commissioner about the case of Devante Johnson, a Houston boy who died of kidney cancer in March after his mother had difficulty renewing his Medicaid coverage. He was 14.

Hawkins acknowledged that the application was mishandled.

“Of course, we regret very much the administrative mistakes that were made in processing that case,” he told Shapleigh.

Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, also voted against Hawkins’ reappointment, citing the state’s now-canceled, $899 million contract with Accenture LLP for the call centers. He also cited Hawkins’ reluctance to directly answer questions about Perry’s HPV mandate.

Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, told Hawkins that the Legislature is too often out of the loop with Hawkins’ agencies. But Watson also said: “I am convinced that you have the heart and you have the intellect and the ability to do this job well.”

On to the full Senate.

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