Rep. Lois Kolkhorst is holding Sen. Jane Nelson's health reform bill hostage.
Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, confirmed that she's delaying taking up Nelson's Senate Bill 8 on third reading in the House until the Senate gets to House Bills 5 and 13, two measures Kolkhorst authored to try to give Texas control over the purse strings for the costly Medicaid and Medicare programs.
SB 8, a key element of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's state health reform plan, provides a framework for health care collaboratives — the partnerships between hospitals, doctors and other health care providers that experts say could lead to better medical quality and cost savings. (The Federal Trade Commission has raised concerns that the bill could actually harm patient care.)
In the Senate, Nelson said she still doesn't have the votes needed to bring up Kolkhorst's bills — though she said she's trying "heroically." HB 5 would ask Congress to approve a Health Care Compact, which would give Texas full oversight — and federal block grants — to operate Medicaid and Medicare. HB 13 would ask the Obama administration for a waiver to let Texas operate Medicaid as it sees fit.
Nelson said she's "not seeing any movement" on either of those bills in the upper chamber, where, so far, Democrats are successfully blocking them.
"I would really hate to see a very good bill die because a couple of other bills don't pass," she said.