POSTED: Monday, April 18, 2011 - 6:23pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 5:23am
The Legislature is trying to balance the state budget for the next two years, and the job is going to require some strong medicine.
And that’s where some of the deepest cuts are proposed…the state Medicaid program. It would be easy to look at Medicaid as something only the poor should worry about. But the fact is, 15% of the people in Texas, one in 6, is covered by Medicaid.
Texas leads the nation in folks without health insurance, about 25% of our population. If the cuts being proposed by the House to the Medicaid budget are passed, that figure will go up. And the cuts are huge.
Keeping up with population growth and maintaining current programs would cost $31-billion. The House set aside $22-billion.
A 33% cut in nursing home funding would mean at least half the state’s 1100 homes would close. Those residents would need a new place to go, and would have no help in affording it. All 700 of the state’s private attendant care companies would be forced to close with the cuts in this budget. These people earn minimum wage and take care of 125,000 elderly and sick Texans.
Only 42% of doctors accept new Medicaid patients. They are looking at a 10% cut in reimbursement rates. Medicaid already pays 30% less than Medicare, and this cut may drive more physicians out of the program. And hospitals who will then have to handle the influx will face a 25% cut in Medicaid spending, causing them to cost shift the loss to patients with insurance.
The State Senate is poised to restore some of the money that was cut in the House, but presuming that happens, a conference committee will then have to hammer out a compromise both bodies can live with.