More Funds for Medicaid, Women’s Health Needed, TMA Tells HHSC
By Joey Berlin

HHSC_grants

Bolstering Medicaid and enhancing women’s health services are once again on the Texas Medical Association’s agenda as it makes recommendations to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) for the agency’s 2022-23 budget requests. 

TMA and several state specialty societies signed onto a letter last week outlining their early suggestions for the exceptional budget items HHSC should request ahead of the 2021 session of the Texas Legislature. The legislature is in session during odd-numbered years, during which it passes a budget for the two years to follow. 

TMA’s letter noted the increasing difficulty many Texans have in obtaining timely health care, noting the rise in the state’s uninsured rate despite a thriving economy. It pointed out that one in five uninsured children in the country live in Texas, even though most are eligible for children’s Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 

“As organizations dedicated to improving the health of all Texans, we find these numbers alarming and troublesome,” the letter said. “Decades of research show that the lack of health care coverage poses serious health consequences. Patients without coverage are less likely to receive cost-saving preventive, primary, or specialty care. Yet early identification and treatment of chronic illnesses like asthma, high blood pressure, or diabetes can greatly reduce the likelihood of serious illness. 

“Insured children are healthier children, missing less school and contributing to their future success. Insured parents miss less work, increasing economic productivity, a win for employers and the state economy. Insured women have healthier pregnancies and maternal and infant health outcomes.” 

Some of TMA’s recommendations to HHSC included: 

  • Revitalize Medicaid and CHIP physician networks to ensure low-income Texans have timely access to health care services – Increase physician payments in Medicaid to be competitive with those of Medicare and commercial payers; reinstate payment of Medicare Part B copayments to the Medicare allowable for patients who are dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. 
  • Improve outcomes for children’s health by eliminating barriers to Medicaid and CHIP enrollment – Provide children on Medicaid with 12 months of continuous coverage, and simplify Medicaid eligibility to reduce red tape that keeps eligible children of working families from getting and keeping coverage. 
  • Promote better birth outcomes by enhancing women’s access to preventive, primary, and behavioral health care throughout their reproductive years – Continue robust funding to the state’s Healthy Texas Women (HTW) and Family Planning programs, and seek funding to allow automatic enrollment of young adult women aging out of Medicaid or CHIP into HTW. 
  • Increase access to community and crisis mental health and substance-abuse services – Provide funding to enhance coverage for substance use disorder (SUD) screening and treatment for postpartum women, as well as funding to ensure those who treat patients with SUD can offer comprehensive services, including medically appropriate medications. 

Along with TMA, other signatories on the seven-page letter included the Texas Pediatric Society, Texas Academy of Family Physicians, Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Texas chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Federation of Texas Psychiatry.

Last Updated On

December 02, 2019

Joey Berlin

Associate Editor

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Joey Berlin is associate 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 and attended the University of Kansas. He lives in Austin.

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