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TribBlog: Medicaid Reimbursement Change Halted

The politically powerful hospital was poised to lose millions in Medicaid reimbursements under a hospital funding shuffle — until it reached out to lawmakers with its concerns.

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The politically powerful Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, which was a subject of a contentious New Yorker article on overutilization of medical procedures in the Rio Grande Valley, is back in the news. The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News have reported that the physician-owned hospital was poised to lose some $25 million in Medicaid reimbursements under a significant hospital funding shuffle, one that would've redistributed more funds to urban hospitals at the expense of Valley hospitals — until it reached out to a couple of allies in the Legislature.

Those lawmakers, state Sens. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, went to Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs with the concerns: that the Medicaid restructuring would financially hamstring Doctors Hospital and other South Texas medical facilities. Suehs halted the reimbursement change indefinitely.

Doctors Hospital is known for its political clout. Its physicians contribute handsomely to lawmakers' campaigns, and its political action committee, the Border Health PAC, is a national political player.

"They (Doctors Hospital) do have a lot of political influence, and that influence was able to get access to the decision makers," Ogden told the Chronicle and the Express-News. "But, at the end of the day, they had a valid complaint."

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