Press Release: Public Meetings Across Texas on Accessing Federal Health Care Funding

State Leaders Putting as Much as $1 Billion in Current Hospital Funding at Risk

AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is holding a series of public meetings across Texas on the renewal of the state’s current Medicaid 1115 Waiver.

Texas currently relies on $2 billion per year in federal funding through the Medicaid 1115 Waiver to partially cover the hospital bills of uninsured Texans. State leaders have put that hospital funding in jeopardy by thus far refusing to accept federal funding to connect uninsured low-wage workers with health insurance. Florida’s recent loss of federal funding suggests that Texas hospitals could lose half of the current $2 billion in federal funding if state leaders do not take action to reduce the uninsured rate.

A number of Texans are seizing this opportunity to share their views on the importance of federal health care funding for their communities and are available to speak with local and statewide media.

 Schedule of Public Meetings

  • 7/15 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM – Edinburg (Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance)
  • 7/16 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Tyler (Tyler Junior College West Campus)
  • 7/16 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM – Austin (HHSC Brown Heatly Building)
  • 7/20 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM – San Antonio (Omni Colonnade)
  • 7/21 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Dallas/Ft. Worth (Old Red Museum, Dallas)
  • 7/22 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM – El Paso (El Paso First Health Plans, Inc.)
  • 7/23 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM – Webinar
  • 7/24 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM – Amarillo (Region 16 Educational Services Center)

The first meeting was held in Houston on July 14th.

Background

The expiring 1115 Waiver provides two federal funding streams to Texas, neither of which provides health insurance. The DSRIP funding supports innovative local health projects and appears likely to be renewed. The Uncompensated Care (UC) funding partially covers the unpayable hospital bills that result from the high number of uninsured Texans. The temporary Waiver was designed to build the health care system’s capacity to serve a higher number of insured Texans under the Affordable Care Act. Texas communities need the Waiver’s DSRIP and UC funding to continue, ideally integrated with a plan to use Medicaid expansion funds to reduce the uninsured rate.

State leaders have jeopardized the $2 billion in annual UC funding for hospitals by thus far refusing to accept federal funding to connect low-wage uninsured workers with health insurance. The federal government has noted that states would reduce their need for federal UC funding to cover unpaid hospital bills if they used Medicaid expansion funding to reduce the number of uninsured. The federal government has communicated to states that it will take into account the state’s effort to reduce the uninsured rate when it weighs state applications for renewed UC funding through the waiver. The federal government recently renewed only half of Florida’s UC funding after state leaders refused to reduce the uninsured rate with Medicaid expansion funds. If federal officials take the same approach in Texas, our hospitals would lose $1 billion in annual federal support.

Texas business leaders, doctors, religious leaders, and others have urged state leaders to accept Medicaid expansion funding to connect uninsured low-wage workers with insurance. The funding is intended to provide an insurance option to child care teachers, cooks, office clerks, and other low-wage workers who are in the “Coverage Gap,” meaning they do not receive insurance from their employers and do not qualify for other health coverage programs. A number of other states have used the federal funding to develop conservative alternatives to traditional Medicaid. A Texas plan would create local jobs; allow more Texans to receive cancer treatment and other care not offered by emergency rooms; reduce crowding in emergency rooms; reduce the pressure on health insurance premiums and property taxes to cover the state’s uninsured population; and support small businesses that can’t afford to offer insurance to their employees.

Additional information on the Waiver and Medicaid expansion funding is available here.

Additional information on the state’s Waiver renewal proposal and public input process is available here.

Additional information on closing the Coverage Gap is available here.

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