Proposed TX budget slashes Medicaid funding

April 5, 2011 3:54:27 PM PDT
State lawmakers in the House have passed their version of the budget and it includes some deep cuts to the state's Medicaid funding.

Even as health care officials brace for the impact, some county officials say it's too soon to start really worrying about funding.

Worrying does little to change the situation. Anticipation, though, allows for preparation, and that's what a lot of health care providers and even Harris County are both doing.

The Motherland Health Community clinic in north Houston has never had more patience. Most pay what they can, and the lucky ones, about 20 percent, are on Medicaid. Now those clinics are preparing for those reimbursements to go down.

"Which I think is going to set back for our clinic, the purpose of why we're here, and all the other community health care centers," Physician Assistant Sharon Lambi said.

The Texas House slashed health care reimbursements in its version of the budget bill. One bill analysis predicts that money providers will receive under that version could cost Harris County $2 billion in Medicaid money.

It's a moving number though. A senate version may moderate that figure.

In the end though, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said there will be cuts and they will be felt.

"It's just hard to say but we know it's going to be less, and I go in with the position that we have the bare minimum right now, so cutting anything is going to be a problem," Emmett said.

The Harris County Hospital District is bracing for $55 million in Medicaid cuts, which is about five percent of its annual budget. Whatever that final version is, it will not be pretty. The ultimate final version will be arrived at in legislative conference committee and eventually enacted into law by the governor.

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