Tribpedia: Medicaid

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Jan. 24, 2011

Grissom on what happens — and doesn't — when police don't analyze evidence taken from rape victims, Dehn with video highlights of the Senate debate over photo voter ID, Aguilar on the more than three dozen immigration-related bills waiting for attention in the Legislature, M. Smith on what to do with empty school buildings, Ramshaw on what will happen to hospitals if Medicaid managed care is expanded, C. Smith on how the state's budget cuts could affect churches and other faith-based organizations, Philpott's report for the Trib and KUT News on how the tight state budget could affect mental health care, yours truly on why the initial budget proposal isn't really a plan for state spending, Stiles with a searchable database of the latest campaign finance reports, and Galbraith on the rising use of coal and wind to generate electricity in Texas: The best of our best from January 24 to 28, 2011.

State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton
State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton

John Zerwas: The TT Interview

The state representative and anesthesiologist from Simonton on why he filed the House's first bill to implement a key piece of federal health-care reform and was the first in his party to openly suggest that dropping out of Medicaid wasn't such a great idea after all. 

Imam Islam Mossad of the North Austin Muslim Community Center recites the Islamic call to prayer to start Texas Impact's interfaith prayer service on the capitol steps on the first day of session. Members of Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith traditions gathered to pray for legislators and to ask that they act as responsible shepherds for the people of Texas.
Imam Islam Mossad of the North Austin Muslim Community Center recites the Islamic call to prayer to start Texas Impact's interfaith prayer service on the capitol steps on the first day of session. Members of Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith traditions gathered to pray for legislators and to ask that they act as responsible shepherds for the people of Texas.

Faith-Based Groups Brace for Brutal Budget Cuts

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Like many other Texas groups, faith organizations that lobby lawmakers are bracing for a brutal budgetary session. It’s not only a moral issue for the religious groups; it concerns their own bottom lines, too. Because when the government doesn’t provide for the needy, the needy look to the church.

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.

State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, lays out House Bill 1.
State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, lays out House Bill 1.

More a Call to Arms Than a Budget

Whatever budget lawmakers eventually approve will serve as the working blueprint for the state for the two years starting in September. But the budget released last week isn’t a blueprint — it’s a political document. It marks the shift from the theoretical rhetoric of the campaigns to the reality of government.

Pick Your Poison

Texas Weekly

In the House, it's the nastiest, ugliest budget anybody's seen in a zillion years. In the Senate, they'll start on Monday with voter ID, the issue that froze the Legislature two years ago.

Residents of East Texas, and particularly minorities, often make lifestyle choices, like smoking and eating high-fat diets, that affect their life expectancy.
Residents of East Texas, and particularly minorities, often make lifestyle choices, like smoking and eating high-fat diets, that affect their life expectancy.

Bad Diets, Smoking Cause East Texans to Die Young

The proof of East Texas' live-hard, die-young culture is in the bread pudding — and the all-you-can-eat fried catfish, the drive-through tobacco barns and the doughnut shops by the dozen. In a community where heavy eating and chain smoking are a way of life, where poverty, hard-headedness and even suspicion hinder access to basic health care, residents die at an average age of 73, or seven years earlier than the longest-living Texans, according to a preliminary county-by-county analysis by the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

House Speaker Joe  Straus, R-Alamo Heights, in January 2011.
House Speaker Joe Straus, R-Alamo Heights, in January 2011.

Texas Legislature Returns to Austin

The Texas Legislature today starts its 140-day effort to puzzle out a massive budget deficit, political redistricting, immigration and a slew of other gnarly problems. The budget issues came into focus Monday with new numbers from the comptroller, who says the state is recovering, slowly, from the recession. But first, legislators will get organized, voting on new rules, a new Speaker, and getting sworn in.

Estimating How Much Texas Will Collect is a Dark Art

Lawmakers are waiting for Comptroller Susan Combs to forecast exactly how much money the state will collect between now and August 2013 so they can write a two-year budget that spends no more than that. It's not exactly like opening the envelopes at the Oscars, but the Capitol community will be hanging on her every word. If history is a guide, her estimate of revenues will be closer to the bull's eye than the Legislature's estimate of spending. But this is a dark art; accuracy can be elusive.

Left, Behind

Texas Weekly

The prevailing theory among Republicans, at least publicly, is that their House herd of 101 will always move together as one, and there will be peace and harmony in the land and all that.

Fat and Skinny

Texas Weekly

That steady drip, drip, drip in the biennial Scare the Speaker thing has been plugged for the moment. Scratching around for other amusements, we came upon a congressional map for Texas showing who's got too few and too many people in their congressional districts.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Dec. 6, 2010

Galbraith on wood chips and green energy, Aguilar on why conservatives might get the appeal of medical marijuana, Philpott on an effort to uncloak the hidden costs of government, Ramshaw and Galewitz of Kaiser Health News on federal plans to send less money to Texas for Medicaid, Aaronson visualizes who's currently covered by Medicaid and how the billions are spent, E. Smith's interview on higher ed and the "speaker drama" with Dan Branch, Hamilton on the costs of a losing football season, Grissom on Hispanic farmers' reaction to a federal settlement in a widespread discrimination case, Hu on what's ahead for Democratic legislators after an electoral drubbing, Chang on the rise of hepatitis B among Asian-Americans and M. Smith on the cuts likely for Texas classrooms in the wake of a record budget shortfall: The best of our best from Dec. 6 to 10, 2010.

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.

Drama Club

Texas Weekly

Maybe Dan Branch is right. Asked whether there's a race for speaker, he called it more of a "Speaker Drama" and said Joe Straus (to whom he's pledged) appears to have the thing locked up.

Health care assistant Crystal Kreig plays a card game with Steve Parker (center) and Eulalio Alvarada (right) at a group home operated by D&S Residential, Inc. Companies like D&S used to handle case management for their clients, but a budget change sent that responsibility to local Mental Retardation Authorities.
Health care assistant Crystal Kreig plays a card game with Steve Parker (center) and Eulalio Alvarada (right) at a group home operated by D&S Residential, Inc. Companies like D&S used to handle case management for their clients, but a budget change sent that responsibility to local Mental Retardation Authorities.

Private Providers Fight Back Over Service Change

For years, the state paid private providers who care for people with disabilities to handle their clients’ case management. But an 11th-hour change inserted into the budget last session stripped them of that responsibility, giving it instead to quasi-governmental Mental Retardation Authorities — and potentially creating a conflict of interest.

State Representative Jim Pitts, representing District 10. District 10 includes Ellis County and Hill County, Texas.
State Representative Jim Pitts, representing District 10. District 10 includes Ellis County and Hill County, Texas.

Pitts Readies Constituents for Coming Budget Cuts

Ask House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, and he'll tell you: The budget he and his fellow finance types will put forward in a few weeks confirms fears that carnage is looming. "We're making huge cuts," he told a Tea Party group last week.

Tom DeLay, shown after his trial in 2011. DeLay, who was convicted of conspiracy and money-laundering, was found innocent of all charges by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 2014.
Tom DeLay, shown after his trial in 2011. DeLay, who was convicted of conspiracy and money-laundering, was found innocent of all charges by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 2014.

DeLay's Conviction Doesn't Erase His Victory

Yes, a jury convicted the former U.S. House majority leader of money laundering. But his maps — the ones that upended the careers of Democrats and helped the GOP take over Congress — are still in place. No amount of jail time can change that.

Drip, Drip, Drip

Texas Weekly

You know the home inspector told you to fix that leak but hey it wasn't a flood or a lot of water and everything seemed okay and you let it go and now the insurance company is slow-paying and the contractor is shaking his head and your wallet and this is really a painful way to run a race for speaker... Joe Straus hasn't had a really good news day since the Republicans won 99 seats on Election Night and he announced the next day that more than four out of five House members wanted him back.