Children’s Defense Fund-Texas Statement on Lt. Governor’s Medicaid Proposal

For Immediate Release
March 2, 2015

For More Information Contact:

Anat Kelman Shaw
akelman@childrensdefense.org
(713) 664-4080

Austin - Today Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Charles Schwertner announced that they are seeking from the federal government an exemption from current health care protections and permission to add additional restrictions to the state's Medicaid program.  Nearly all of the Texans served by the state’s current Medicaid program are low-income children, pregnant women, the elderly, and Texans with disabilities.

Following the announcement, Children’s Defense Fund-Texas executive director Patrick Bresette jointly issued a response with 13 children’s and health care groups, and individually issued the following statement:

“If the State Senate leadership truly wanted to improve health care for low income children and families they would not be seeking ways to scale back our Medicaid program. Instead they would join the chorus of voices in Texas calling for expanding access to care and closing our coverage gap. This is just more evidence of how out of step Texas leadership is with the priorities of the majority of Texans.

Twenty-two business chambers across urban and rural communities, including the conservative Texas Association of Business, bipartisan county judges in large and small counties across the state, the overwhelming majority of Texas-based researchers, including a seven-member professional board appointed by then-Governor Perry to review the issue firmly stand by the position that the fiscally responsible thing for Texas to do is to expand health coverage. Polling also shows that two-thirds of Texans support Medicaid expansion.

Medicaid is one of the best ways our state can bring our federal tax dollars back home for reinvestment in Texas. For every $1 that Texas spends on healthcare for our poorest children, pregnant women, the elderly, and disabled, our state budget gets $1.50 in return.

Patrick and Schwertner’s request for Texas to be exempt from the ACA’s “maintenance of effort” requirement would not only require an act of Congress but would jeopardize the healthcare of half of all the children in Texas…especially vulnerable at a time when future funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program remains uncertain.

Today’s announcement implies that Texans must choose between health care and needed spending in education, but pitting children’s health against their education presents a false tradeoff. In order to be able to compete in a 21st century world, we need a future workforce that is both educated and healthy.  It is unacceptable that Texas still ranks in the bottom ten among states for children’s wellbeing yet our top leaders appear to be more interested in prioritizing tax breaks for wealthy corporations than investing in our children’s future. 

State leaders should protect investments that keep Texas children and families able to see a doctor when they need to and listen to Texas doctors, communities, chambers of commerce, county judges, and others calling for a plan to accept our share of new Medicaid funding for uninsured workers and parents.”

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