Texas House to debate Medicaid Supplemental today

Posted in 83rd Legislature, Education, Health Care, The Lege at 11:01 am by wcnews

Here’s the floor report for HB 10 from the House Research Organization for today. There are eight prefiled amendments. This is the unpaid Medicaid expenses that The Lege decided in 2011 to leave for the 2013 legislature to deal with, so they could pass a so-called balanced budget without raising taxes while still gutting public education.

The Democrats will try to get returning money to public education into the discussion today as well. Via Peggy Fikac, Will school finance work its way into the Medicaid IOU debate after all?

Some lawmakers may be angling to open up a debate on education funding and other issues when the Texas House takes up a must-pass bill Thursday to pay a giant looming Medicaid IOU this fiscal year.
A handful of amendments have been pre-filed to House Bill 10, including one by Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, that would give lawmakers the opportunity to put findings into the bill regarding “inadequate funding” of public schools.

This isn’t what GOP leaders were looking for when they offered, and the House approved, a rule that says if lawmakers want to add money to any program through HB10, they must deduct it from other programs that would be funded in the legislation.

That would be tough, because the bill fills a Medicaid hole and provides money that public schools need to make it through the rest of the fiscal year. There isn’t any extra money floating around in the measure.

Leaders have said they are looking at whether they can put any additional funds into public schools this fiscal year through a separate supplemental spending bill.

The House rule didn’t stop several lawmakers from pre-filing amendments to add money to items including programs for strugglings students, school security and technology, college financial aid and transportation – the latter to take care of roads damaged by increased use or oversize and overweight vehicles related to the energy boom.

Martinez Fischer’s amendment wouldn’t add money, but it has the potential to be a springboard to a lengthy discussion and potentially, some votes on how schools are funded. He and other Democrats have been vehement about the need to quickly address restoration of funding cut from public schools two years ago when Comptroller Susan Combs projected a revenue shortfall. Revenues have come in much higher than her estimate.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, has said HB 10 must pass quickly to ensure health-care providers are paid and patients get treated in the Medicaid program.

The more the Democrats can highlight the GOP’s neglect of things that matter most to working and middle class Texans and show that there is an alternative the more the overall debate will start moving in the right direction.

On another note regarding Medicaid, the wing nut Florida Gov. Rick Scott has changed his mind on Medicaid, In Reversal, Florida Gov. Scott Agrees To Medicaid Expansion.

But Wednesday, Scott, a Republican, pulled a complete turnabout. He said Florida would accept the federal government’s offer of funding, at least for the three years it has promised to pay the entire bill.

The decision “is not a white flag of surrender to government-run health care,” he said. Instead, he called the Medicaid expansion a common-sense solution for real health care problems.

“Quality health care services must be accessible and affordable for all — not just those in certain ZIP codes or tax brackets,” he said at the briefing. “No mother, or father, should despair over whether or not they can afford — or access — the health care their child needs. While the federal government is committed to paying 100 percent of the cost of new people in Medicaid, I cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care.”

It’s time for Perry and the wing nuts to wake up. It’s the moral and fiscally responsible thing to do. And it’s a really good deal for Texas.

Further Reading:
Better Texas Blog, How Texas Gets Its Money. How Texas Spends Its Money. Why It Doesn’t Add Up.
Texas Impact, Extending Medicaid to Low-Income Adults…What’s in it for Your Community?
Via the FWST, Rally at Capitol urges Texas to spend more on Medicaid.

“We know Gov. Perry is completely out of touch with the reality that’s facing Texans in the area of healthcare,” Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, told the crowd. “He is out of touch with Texans who have to wait until they are so sick they have to go to the emergency room so they can get healthcare.”

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