13 Children’s & Health Care Groups Issue Joint Statement on Lt. Governor’s Medicaid Proposal

For Immediate Release March 2, 2015

Contact: Oliver Bernstein, [email protected], 512-289-8618

Tiffany Hogue, [email protected], 832-524-7045

Patrick Bresette, [email protected], 512-925-8125

Austin - Today Lieutenant 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. Ninety-six percent 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, the 13 Texas organizations listed below issued the following statement:

Low-income children, pregnant women, the elderly, and Texans with disabilities don't need more hoops to jump through. Like all Texans, they need to be able to see a doctor when they're sick, fill their prescriptions, and get other critical medical care.

Texas already has one of the most bare bones Medicaid programs in the country, denying coverage to nearly all low-income parents and workers despite the availability of federal funds intended to cover them.

The officials’ announcement decries increased enrollment in Texas Medicaid, despite the fact that enrollment growth has been almost entirely through coverage of children, dropping the uninsured rate of Texas children from 25% in 1997 to 13% of all kids in 2013.  The authors ask to be exempt from the Affordable Care Act's "maintenance of effort" requirements, which are designed to protect children's health care coverage.

The real health care crisis in our state is that so many Texans don't have access to health insurance, putting them and their families at risk while forcing other Texans to cover unpaid hospital bills through higher premiums and property taxes.

Health Savings Accounts and other requirements have been included in the plans conservative states have negotiated with the federal government for extending coverage to low-income adult workers, but these requirements are ill-suited for the vulnerable Texans served by the state's current bare bones Medicaid program.

The proposal to squeeze a few extra dollars out of low-income children, pregnant women, the elderly, and Texans with disabilities, announced the same week the Senate Finance Committee plans to consider tax cuts for some of the state's largest businesses, represents the wrong priorities for Texas.

Rather than casting blame on the federal government, children, pregnant women, the elderly, and Texans with disabilities, we encourage our state leaders to listen to Texas doctors, Chambers of Commerce, county judges, and others who are calling for a plan to accept our share of new Medicaid funding for uninsured workers and parents.

Texans who agree that state leaders should develop a plan to close the Coverage Gap are invited to join business leaders, health care leaders, uninsured Texans, and others at Cover Texas Now’s Advocacy Day at the state Capitol on March 12. More information is available at texaswellandhealthy.org.


Signed by:

Tom Watkins, Chairman, State Advocacy & Governmental Affairs Committee, March of Dimes

Jose E. Camacho, Executive Director and General Counsel, Texas Association of Community Health Centers

Simone Nichols-Segers, Government Activism Coordinator, National MS Society

Tod Marvin, President & CEO, Easter Seals Central Texas

Eileen Garcia, CEO, Texans Care for Children

Patrick Bresette, Executive Director, Children's Defense Fund-Texas

Ana R. DeFrates, Director, Texas Latina Advocacy Network (LAN) Policy & Advocacy

for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

Bee Moorhead, Executive Director, Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy/Texas Impact

Miriam Nisenbaum, Executive Director, National Association of Social Workers – Texas Chapter

Anne Dunkelberg, Associate Director, Center for Public Policy Priorities

José Eduardo Sánchez, Southern Director, Young Invincibles

Tiffany Hogue, Campaign Director, Texas Organizing Project

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director/CEO and Co-Founder, MomsRising.org


View an infographic on the Texas Coverage Gap and a list of organizations that have called on state leaders to ensure Texas workers have a health coverage option.