Updated: House, Senate Pass Health Reform Bill

Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, brings up SB7 the health care reform bill for debate on the Senate floor in the afternoon session June 27, 2011.
Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, brings up SB7 the health care reform bill for debate on the Senate floor in the afternoon session June 27, 2011.

Updated 1:30 p.m. 

The Senate approved the conference committee report for SB 7 with a 22-8 vote. The measure now heads to Gov. Rick Perry for a signature.

"These reforms are critically needed to focus our health care dollars on the outcomes we want for our patients and to contain the unsustainable growth in our health and human services budget," said Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound.

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House lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the conference committee report for SB 7, an omnibus health reform bill loaded with amendments, some of them controversial. 

The conference committee report must first pass the Senate before it heads to the governor for a signature. 

SB 7, which passed 96-48, is designed to save the state more than $400 million over the 2012-2013 biennium by making Medicaid more cost-effective and expanding Medicaid managed care into the Rio Grande Valley. The measure also allows doctors to partner with hospitals and other health care groups to reach better outcomes. 

The bill is a fan favorite for abortion opponents, because it includes amendments aimed at taking more family planning dollars away from outfits like Planned Parenthood, and barring hospital districts that use tax revenue to finance an abortion from getting state funding, except in the case of a medical emergency. 

The measure is also home to two bills designed by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, to give Texas more control over Medicaid and Medicare. The first is a health care compact, which would allow Texas to partner with other states to ask the federal government for control — both fiscal and governmental — over both Medicare and Medicaid. The second is a measure that directs state officials to seek a waiver from Washington to operate Medicaid with a federal block grant. Neither measure is likely to gain the support of the Obama administration. 

But not every amendment stayed on the bill. Rep. Fred Brown, R-Bryan, expressed deep displeasure that his amendment to ban contractors accused of fraud and hit with financial penalties from doing business with the state no longer had "teeth." It now limits the ban to companies convicted of fraud. 

"I want to let the whole body know... I tried to put enough teeth in this to protect the taxpayers of Texas," Brown said. "Every time it came back diluted." 

 

 

 

 

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