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.
Federal health care reform "provides no flexibility for reducing caseload eligibility,” he said. “I want to be perfectly clear: There are not many options."
Meanwhile, members of the Senate Finance Committee questioned budgetary plans to expand the state's Medicaid managed care program to generate cost savings.
Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, said his experience as a doctor prompted him to question whether the expansion of managed care would allow the state to maintain the current level of services to underprivileged patients — a federal requirement. Medicaid reimbursements are already woefully low, leading doctors to opt out of the program and making it tough for Medicaid patients to get access to care. These doctors are even less likely to participate in managed care, he said.
“I’m not objecting philosophically to doing managed care, but I do have concerns about what the federal government is going to say if we go through with this,” Deuell said. “Are we going to work something out and have the feds tell us, 'You’ve just reduced access?'"
After a long day of testimony on health and human services budget cuts, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, summed it up:
“There wasn’t a single vote for this bill today,” she said. “Not even the author would vote for this bill today”