COVID-19 Relief Funds Could Bring Medicaid Pay Bump in Fall Special Session
By Joey Berlin


A widely anticipated special session of the Texas Legislature is under way. But the Texas Medical Association has much of its energy focused on the next special session this fall, when the legislature is likely to tackle distribution of around $16 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds. 

The second extra session, expected to start in October, was slated largely to address redistricting. But TMA Vice President of Advocacy Dan Finch says it also opens up opportunities for the House of Medicine to convince the legislature to invest some of the relief funds in health care, and TMA already has at least one particular ask in mind: at long last, giving physicians treating Medicaid patients their first meaningful payment increase in decades. 

“There may be opportunities for us to redirect some of those funds for Medicaid payment increases and other health funding priorities,” Mr. Finch said. “Physicians [in Medicaid] have basically been operating on the same payment structure for 20 years or more.” 

Until then, TMA will be keeping a close eye on the special session that began July 8, and will get involved as needed to preserve and promote good health care policy.  

Gov. Greg Abbott’s list of 11 topics for the legislature to consider in this session includes a broad range of issues, including legislation to only allow students to compete in University Interscholastic League competitions designated for their birth sex; bail reform legislation; and a measure to prohibit providing pregnancy termination-inducing drugs by mail or delivery service. 

“This current special [session], 30 days, was called to address issues that the governor felt weren’t adequately addressed in the regular session,” Mr. Finch said. “But it’s a prelude to a more substantive fall discussion session.” 

The current special session also opened with a freshly updated budget revenue estimate from the state comptroller’s office. Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Thursday that $123 billion would be available for the 2022-23 biennium. That’s over $7 billion more than the comptroller’s estimate from May.  

Comptroller Hegar said in a statement that the state’s economy “rebounded strongly during the spring as vaccination rates increased and the economy opened more fully. … Our economic outlook is cautiously optimistic, and this estimate reflects that forecast.”  

Last Updated On

July 09, 2021

Originally Published On

July 09, 2021

Related Content

Coronavirus | Medicaid | Texas legislation

Joey Berlin

Managing Editor

(512) 370-1393

Joey Berlin is managing editor of Texas Medicine. His previous work includes stints as a reporter and editor for various newspapers and publishing companies, and he’s covered everything from hard news to sports to workers’ compensation. Joey grew up in the Kansas City area. He lives in Austin.

More stories by Joey Berlin