Doing Right By Our Most Medically Vulnerable

Of all the major changes to both health care budgets and policy that emerged from the last Texas legislative session, the single most dramatic impact is that Medicaid -- comprising less than 19% of our state’s budget -- received about 30% of the cuts taken to offset the state's $23 billion revenue hole. In case you missed it - here's a detailed analysis of changes to health care in Texas after the last legislative session.

Because Medicaid cares for many of the most needy Texans—children, people with disabilities, pregnant women and impoverished senior citizens—this means our most vulnerable Texans will take the brunt of the budget cuts by diminished access to needed health care.

Even before the cuts, Medicaid providers were hard to find. The Texas Medical Association's most recent poll showed that the number of doctors taking new Medicaid patients has dropped from 67% to 42% over the last decade.

What happens when all across the state Medicaid fees to doctors, hospitals and pharmacies are cut?  What happens is that we create new barriers for our most medically vulnerable when the additional strain on medical providers shifts to consumers in the form of increased costs and/or diminished services.  This is nothing to be proud of.  It runs counter to the claim that we Texans look after our own, that we don’t turn our back on those in need.

There are more than 3.5 million Texans receiving Medicaid benefits, and another half a million kids on CHIP.

Who will pound the halls of the state capitol to advocate for them? Who gives campaign contributions to elected officials to protect Medicaid recipients?

Next session we will again face a state revenue deficit.  Will we again attempt to close the gap at the expense of schoolchildren and all those who rely on Medicaid for healthcare, because too few stand and speak in their favor?

Contributed by: Anne Dunkelberg