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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Texas Medicaid Costs Vary Widely by Hospital, Area

The cost of common medical procedures paid for by Texas Medicaid varies dramatically from hospital to hospital and region to region, according to a Texas Tribune analysis. A routine delivery at St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital costs twice as much as at Christus St. Catherine Hospital in Katy, just 50 miles away. A coronary bypass? The Laredo Medical Center bills Medicaid nearly $5,500 more for one than the Harlingen Medical Center.

Baby Mila, who was born 3 months early, with mom Adrienne Ball in Seton Medical Center Austin's neonatal intensive care unit. Texas lawmakers are looking for ways to curb prenatal births and the high costs they present for the state's Medicaid program.
Baby Mila, who was born 3 months early, with mom Adrienne Ball in Seton Medical Center Austin's neonatal intensive care unit. Texas lawmakers are looking for ways to curb prenatal births and the high costs they present for the state's Medicaid program.

Maternity Wards, NICUs Face Budget Scrutiny

State health officials, searching for solutions to Texas’ budget shortfall, are eying neonatal intensive care units, which they fear are being overbuilt and overused by hospitals eager to profit from the high-cost care — and by doctors too quick to offer women elective inductions and Caesarean sections before their babies are full term.

Gloria Garza, who had a liver transplant in 2009 at the University Transplant Center in San Antonio, stands with her husband, George, at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg on March 2.
Gloria Garza, who had a liver transplant in 2009 at the University Transplant Center in San Antonio, stands with her husband, George, at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg on March 2.

Doctors, Transplant Patients Hope to Dispel Myths

In 2004, doctors told Gloria Garza she needed a new liver to stay alive. Five years later, the McAllen native's wish was granted, after the family of a deceased person agreed to donate one. That Garza is even alive is surprising in a predominantly Hispanic region where cultural and religious beliefs further impede organ donations, which already face hurdles of genetics and matching blood types.

Medicare UPL Distribution by Texas Senate Districts
Medicare UPL Distribution by Texas Senate Districts

Mapping Where Federal Hospital Dollars Go in Texas

State health officials hope they've reached a breakthrough in their effort to achieve two seemingly competing goals: expanding Medicaid managed care, and keeping a combined $1 billion in federal health care dollars flowing into Texas hospitals every year. Check out our maps to see which House and Senate districts have the most to lose if UPL dollars can't be preserved.

Texas Seeks Medicaid Waiver, but Prognosis Is Poor

Only months ago, Texas lawmakers threatened to drop out of Medicaid. Now, Texas and other financially struggling states are asking Washington for permission to operate the program as they see fit. The feds are unlikely to agree — further fueling the fire behind the state’s anti-Washington, state-sovereignty rhetoric.

Disabled man outside room where Senate Finance Committee listens to testimony on February 2, 2011
Disabled man outside room where Senate Finance Committee listens to testimony on February 2, 2011

Health Care Advocates Offer Emotional Pleas

From patients and parents to nurses and practitioners, the many faces of Texans affected by health care budget cuts gathered at the Capitol today to give an earful to lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee. The onslaught of emotional testimony appeared to affect some senators. “I’ve never seen the [level of] concern by your presence today," said state Sen. John Whitmire, the Houston Democrat who has argued against such sweeping cuts. "It will make a difference."

Odiel Rodriguez, a physician assistant, checks a patient's file at Ashley Pediatrics Day and Night Clinic in Pharr. Family practitioners fear what budget cuts will mean for the funding that keeps them in business.
Odiel Rodriguez, a physician assistant, checks a patient's file at Ashley Pediatrics Day and Night Clinic in Pharr. Family practitioners fear what budget cuts will mean for the funding that keeps them in business.

Are Payment Reform, Texas Budget in Conflict?

Call it a primary care conundrum. On one hand, lawmakers are crafting legislation to make health care more affordable and effective, through a series of programs to reward doctors and health care providers who get the best medical outcomes. On the other, they’re proposing meeting the state’s budget crunch by slashing Medicaid provider rates and eliminating funding for family practice medical residents — the same workforce they’re relying on to implement key parts of their reform.  

HHSC Commissioner Tom Suehs testifies before lawmakers.
HHSC Commissioner Tom Suehs testifies before lawmakers.

Suehs Warns Lawmakers on Health Cuts

Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs pulled no punches when he warned Senate lawmakers today what proposed budget cuts will mean: either cutting the number of people served, or the money paid to those who care for them.  

Dr. Carlos Cardenas, chairman of the board at Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg, performs an exam on a patient on Wednesday December 8, 2010. Many Texas hospitals like this one oppose certain aspects of the proposed expansion of Medicaid managed care.
Dr. Carlos Cardenas, chairman of the board at Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg, performs an exam on a patient on Wednesday December 8, 2010. Many Texas hospitals like this one oppose certain aspects of the proposed expansion of Medicaid managed care.

Texas Hospitals Could Face Cuts in Federal Funds

Texas hospital administrators aren't thrilled about the 10 percent Medicaid provider rate cut included in the House's proposed budget. But what they fear more is the proposed expansion of Medicaid managed care, which could force them to forgo a combined $1 billion a year in federal funding.

Endoscopy tech Dora Facturan, right, prepares Maria Perez, 65, for a colonoscopy exam from Dr. Carlos Cardenas, back left, on December 8, 2010 at the Doctor's Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg. South Texans lead some of the longest lives in the state.
Endoscopy tech Dora Facturan, right, prepares Maria Perez, 65, for a colonoscopy exam from Dr. Carlos Cardenas, back left, on December 8, 2010 at the Doctor's Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg. South Texans lead some of the longest lives in the state.

Border Counties Have Some of Texas' Longest Lives

Many of the longest lives in Texas are lived in an unlikely place: along the impoverished border with Mexico, where residents often live until age 80 and beyond. Explanations for this so-called "Hispanic Paradox" range from theories about differences in the diet, faith and family values of first-generation South Texans to suggestions that natural selection is at play in immigration patterns. 

Report Shows Some State Medicaid Improvements

Thirteen states expanded Medicaid or CHIP eligibility last year, and 14 states made improvements in enrollment and renewal procedures. Texas didn't fall into either of these categories, but the state held steady in 2010, while making improvements in technology to prepare for the roll-out of federal health care reform.

Patients are shown checking out in 2010 at the People's Community Clinic in Austin, a safety-net clinic that serves Medicaid recipients and the underinsured.
Patients are shown checking out in 2010 at the People's Community Clinic in Austin, a safety-net clinic that serves Medicaid recipients and the underinsured.

Feds Slated to Reduce Texas Medicaid Match

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.