Tribpedia: Health And Human Services Commission

Tribpedia

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission, with its $16 billion annual budget and 9,300 employees, administers and determines eligibility for programs for underprivileged Texans, including Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

The commission oversees the four other state health agencies, including the Department of Aging and Disability Services, the Department ...

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Feds Slated to Reduce Texas Medicaid Match

Patients check out at the People's Community Clinic in Austin, a safety-net clinic that serves Medicaid recipients and the under-insured. The federal government is preparing to reduce the percentage of Texas Medicaid expenses that it currently pays, adding to the state's fiscal problems.
Patients check out at the People's Community Clinic in Austin, a safety-net clinic that serves Medicaid recipients and the under-insured. The federal government is preparing to reduce the percentage of Texas Medicaid expenses that it currently pays, adding to the state's fiscal problems.

Already facing a record budget shortfall, Texas has received more bad news: The portion of state Medicaid costs paid by the federal government is about to drop. Texas’ Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, a mathematical formula linked to a state's per-capita personal income, will fall more than 2 percentage points in late 2011, equivalent to a $1.2 billion hit. Only two states — Louisiana and North Dakota — will face a bigger percentage drop. And that’s after federal stimulus funds that have been artificially enhancing this match dry up in the spring, another blow to cash-strapped state Medicaid programs in Texas and across the nation.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 11/15/10

Hu on the Perry-Bush rift, Ramshaw on the adult diaper wars, Ramsey's interview with conservative budget-slasher Arlene Wohlgemuth, Galbraith on the legislature's water agenda (maybe), M. Smith on Don McLeroy's last stand (maybe), Philpott on the end of earmarks (maybe), Hamilton on the merger of the Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Education Agency (maybe), Aguilar on Mexicans seeking refuge from drug violence, Grissom on inadequate health care in county jails and my conversation with Houston Mayor Annise Parker: The best of our best from November 15 to 19, 2010.

The waiting room at People's Community Clinic in Austin, TX in November 2010.
The waiting room at People's Community Clinic in Austin, TX in November 2010.

Can Texas and a Dozen Other States Drop Medicaid?

A week after newly emboldened Republicans in the Texas Legislature floated a radical cost-saving proposal — withdrawing from the federal Medicaid program — health care experts, economists and think tanks are trying to determine just how possible it would be. The answer? It’s complicated. But it’s not stopping nearly a dozen other states, frantic over budget shortfalls and anticipating new costs from federal health care reform, from exploring something that was, until recently, unthinkable.

State Schools for the Disabled Could Face Budget Ax

A barrage of abuse scandals, a federal investigation and the shrinking state budget could be just what disability advocates need to achieve a longtime goal: fewer state institutions and more community-based living services for developmentally disabled Texans who can’t care for themselves.

State-Supported Living Center in Austin, Texas
State-Supported Living Center in Austin, Texas

Texas Wants to Boost Payments to State Centers

In the wake of high-profile incidents of abuse, state health officials want to boost payments to Texas' institutions for the disabled by $25,000 per patient per year. But the proposed Medicaid rate change has drawn the ire of Texas’ disability community, which wants to see the facilities shuttered rather than propped up.

Deuell Asks AG: Can State Ban Abortion Affiliates?

State Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, wants Planned Parenthood's clinics out of the state’s Women’s Health Program, which provides family planning services — but not abortions — to impoverished Medicaid patients. He says a 2005 law should exclude them already. But for years, the state’s Health and Human Services Commission has allowed those clinics to participate, for fear that barring them might be unconstitutional. Deuell has asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to clear up the matter, hoping it will free up the agency to push Planned Parenthood out.

Lex Frieden on the Americans With Disability Act

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which has been hailed as a Bill of Rights for people with disabilities. Nathan Bernier of KUT News talked to one of the architects of the legislation, Dr. Lex Frieden, a professor of at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston who has been partially paralyzed since 1967. "Life has changed signficantly," Frieden says.

State Considers Tougher Child Care Requirements

At a hearing today, the Department of Family and Protective Services will consider stricter caregiver-to-child ratios for child care centers — but improved care for Texas toddlers could also mean less income for child care providers and higher tuition for families.

Some Medicaid Doctors Rely Heavily On Potent Drugs

A Houston psychiatrist who uses clinically controversial brain scans to diagnose everything from anxiety to marital discord. A Plano music therapist who believes his Peruvian pan flute tunes cure mental illness. And a Beaumont child psychologist reprimanded for continuing to prescribe to a proven drug abuser. These physicians have written more prescriptions for potent antipsychotic drugs to the state’s neediest patients than any other doctors in Texas.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of June 28, 2010

Grissom, Hamilton, and Philpott on the Texas Democratic Party's state convention, the two-step, the forecast, and the ticket; Galbraith on the political and environmental battle between state and federal environmental regulators, and on a new age of nukes in Texas; Burnson on signs of the times in San Antonio; Ramshaw on hackers breaking into the state's confidential cancer database; Aguilar's interview with Katherine Glass, the Libertarian Party's nominee for governor; Acosta on efforts to stop 'Murderabilia' items that sell because of the association with killers;  Ramshaw and the Houston Chronicle's Terri Langford on the criminal arrest records of workers in state-funded foster care centers; Hu on accusations that state Sunset examiners missed problems with workers compensation regulators because they didn't ask the right questions of the right people; Ramsey and Stiles on the rush to rake in campaign cash, and on political races that could be won or lost because of voter attraction to Libertarian candidates; and Aguilar's fresh take on South Texas' reputation for corruption. The best of our best from June 28 to July 3, 2010.

FBI Investigating Possible DSHS Hacker

The FBI is investigating whether a hacker broke into the state’s confidential cancer database, possibly accessing personal information and medical records. Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs says state health officials notified his office in early May that a hacker was holding the Texas Cancer Registry hostage and demanding a ransom. Suehs says preliminary investigation results from the FBI indicate the threat may be a hoax but that if private records were compromised, health officials will quickly notify the people listed in the registry. 

Family nurse practitioner Jean Gisler at her office in Victoria, Texas.
Family nurse practitioner Jean Gisler at her office in Victoria, Texas.

Nurse Practitioners Want Less Doctor Oversight

In Texas, nurse practitioners’ livelihoods are tied to physicians: By law, they can’t treat patients without a doctor’s permission. That means if they want to open their own practice, they must petition, and pay, a doctor to grant them “prescriptive authority” — to essentially keep an eye on their work and, in some cases, to be held liable for it. Doctors say this is as it should be. Nurse practitioners and their allies say doctors don't want the competition and charge them enough to run them out of business. “It borders on an immoral situation,” says state Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center.

TMA Supports HPV Vaccine For Boys

The Texas Medical Association's leadership body voted this weekend to support vaccinating not just young girls but young boys for the human papillomavirus. But organization officials were quick to note that the vote did not include making such vaccines mandatory, which Gov. Rick Perry tried to do for Texas schoolgirls in 2007.