TMA Offers to Help New HHSC Chief Reform Medicaid
By Joey Berlin



The Texas Medical Association knows the state’s Medicaid managed care system needs to get better, and physicians are ready to help the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s (HHSC’s) new leader make it happen.

That’s what TMA and three other organizations told new HHSC Executive Commissioner Courtney Phillips, PhD, in a letter this week welcoming her to her new post and highlighting steps to cut Medicaid red tape and enhance access to care. 

The letter from TMA, the Texas Association of Health Plans, Texas Hospital Association, and Texas Association of Community Health Plans offered to collaborate with HHSC to “implement pragmatic reforms our organizations believe will help ensure more timely, accountable, and quality care while also eliminating unnecessary and costly administrative processes that do not benefit patients or taxpayers.”

The letter shared hoped-for action items arising from the four organizations’ Oct. 12 joint Medicaid Managed Care Summit. At the summit the organizations identified four areas for collaboration:

  • Modernize the program: Reducing red tape and administrative burdens to deliver more timely and efficient care and to encourage greater physician participation in Medicaid;
  • Improve systems and processes of care: Streamlining processes that affect health care delivery, such as care coordination;
  • Increase access to care: Focusing particularly on “enhancing preventive, behavioral, and maternal health care” to make Texas healthier and reduce taxpayer cost; and
  • Strengthen patient protections: Simplifying and improving “confusing and intimidating” processes Medicaid patients face if they need to lodge a complaint about their care.

While the letter noted some steps to modernize Medicaid require legislative or federal approval, the organizations also believe HHSC has some authority to implement needed reforms unilaterally. Some of the steps TMA believes HHSC can take on its own include streamlining and improving prior authorization processes; strengthening Medicaid appeals and hearing processes; and increasing outreach to women on the importance of preventive health care.

“While we will not be able to solve every problem overnight, we believe that working together we can make tremendous strides,” the groups’ letter said. “We look forward to helping make your transition to Texas a success.”

Ms. Phillips, formerly chief executive officer for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, started her job as Texas HHSC executive commissioner in October.


Last Updated On

November 30, 2018

Originally Published On

November 30, 2018

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