Health Bills in Legislative Committees, Again

Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan and Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, speaks with Sen. Jane Nelson R-Flower Mound during meeting on June 2nd, 2011
Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan and Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, speaks with Sen. Jane Nelson R-Flower Mound during meeting on June 2nd, 2011

The Senate Finance Committee — for the second time — has passed out measures designed to make Medicaid more efficient and effective, and to open the door for medical professions and institutions to collaborate.

Sen. Jane Nelson’s Senate Bill 7, which combines measures that ran out of time at the end of last month, would expand Medicaid managed care into South Texas, draw prescription drugs into that program, and create incentives for doctors and hospitals to work together to provide health care that’s more cost effective — and has better outcomes. The measure also creates assessments to reduce overutilization of health care services, and incentives for doctors who reduce patients’ reliance on emergency rooms for non-emergent conditions.

Senate lawmakers sent the measure, estimated to save $467 million over the biennium, and therefore needed to balance the budget, to the full chamber with a unanimous vote. Similar measures will be considered by House Appropriations on Friday.  

“Every day that goes by that this is not implemented, we are losing money,” Nelson said. “Our Medicaid cost trends are unsustainable. … This truly does improve the quality of our system, and creates a more efficient system.”

However, the Senate Finance Committee still has plenty of work left. It hasn’t yet tackled the more controversial health care bills filed for this special session, including efforts to take control of Medicare and Medicaid — the health care programs for the elderly, the disabled and poor children — from the federal government.

 

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