State Efforts to Take Control of Medicaid Struggling

Texas’ efforts to take control over Medicaid, the joint state-federal health care program for poor children and the disabled, and Medicare, the federal health plan for seniors, could be in trouble.

House Bills 5 and 13, both measures that seek to give Texas control over the purse strings to operate Medicaid, have made it through the House, but could be tangled up in the Senate. With the clock ticking — Wednesday is the last day for the Senate to consider House bills — Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said she’s still scrambling to find the votes to bring it to the floor. She wouldn’t say whether she has any Democrats signed on, key to getting the two-thirds vote needed to bring up the measure.

Brenham Republican Rep. Lois Kolkhorst’s HB 13 seeks a waiver from Washington to give the state more control over Medicaid spending. Her HB 5, a health care compact, goes even further; it would, in partnership with other states, ask Washington for control over Medicaid and Medicare, from its funding to how it’s structured and who it covers.

“I would be really sad if neither of those bills panned out,” Kolkhorst said, in between text messages to Nelson from across the dome. “She’s such a strong leader. I’m certain she’d let neither of those bills die on her watch.” 

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