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The Brief: April 20, 2015

The federal government is putting new pressure on Texas to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, possibly pushing the issue to the front burner of a Legislature entering its final six weeks.

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The Big Conversation

The federal government is putting new pressure on Texas to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, possibly pushing the issue to the front burner of a Legislature entering its final six weeks.

The pressure point, as the Tribune's Edgar Walters reported late last week, is a waiver granted by the federal government in 2011 to give Texas a chance to leverage federal aid to transform health care delivery systems in the state. That waiver is up for renewal next year, meaning that lawmakers need to get work on a renewal done this year since they don't meet again until 2017.

Walters reported that the feds' message was simple — expansion of Medicaid would be a consideration when it comes to renewing the waiver because of the expansion's potential to reduce the amount of uncompensated care through expanded coverage of low-income Texans.

A Houston Chronicle story pegged the potential loss at $4 billion annually. Paul Klotman, president and CEO of Baylor College of Medicine, told the Chronicle that the loss of the waiver "would be a disaster. ... I would not be surprised if safety net hospitals just folded."

Trib Must-Reads

Analysis: When Texans' Presidential Primary Votes Matter, by Ross Ramsey — A crowded Republican race for the 2016 presidential nomination could bring a nationally competitive contest to a state that does not often get to take part. And that could influence state politics even as the state gets a word into the national debate.

Texas Operatives Prominent in 2016 Campaigns, by Abby Livingston and Annie Daniel — It's hard to see a 2016 presidential bid being shaped without the direct influence of a Texas political operative. Here's a look at staffers and advisers who wield tremendous power in the mechanics of each expected 2016 bid.

Cruz Serves Red Meat to GOP Activists in N.H., by Patrick Svitek — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz served a generous helping of red meat to GOP activists in New Hampshire on Saturday, taking time-worn jabs at his favorite targets with a few new wrinkles.

Opposition to Gay Conversion Therapy Grows, by Bobby Blanchard — While opposition to so-called gay conversion therapy is growing nationally, Texas is not likely to restrict its use. State Rep. Celia Israel says she'd be happy just to get a hearing on her bill that would ban the practice for minors.

The Day Ahead

•    The House convenes at noon; the Senate convenes at 2 p.m.

•    House Energy Resources convenes on final adjournment to take up a proposed constitutional amendment changing the name of the Texas Railroad Commission (E2.010).

•    House Licensing & Administrative Procedures considers legislation expanding local options on eight-liner games as well as legislation expanding gaming on tribal lands and to provide a source of funding for windstorm coverage for coastal residents (E2.026).


Ciudad Juárez neighborhood scoffs at report of Islamic State terror cell in its midst, The Dallas Morning News

Parents lobby for 'miracle drug’ that comes from pot, San Antonio Express-News

High-speed DPS motorcycle pursuit ends with a gunshot, karate kick, Austin American-Statesman

Abbott's priority bills on a slow crawl through Legislature, Houston Chronicle

Texas lawmakers’ bills would limit cellphone trackers, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Prisons chief says Texas will be able to find more execution drugs, The Associated Press

Audit: Personnel decisions poorly managed at state facilities agency, Austin American-Statesman

Cruz clan's old church touts itself as 'true family', Houston Chronicle

Big money in politics emerges as a rising issue in 2016 campaign, The Washington Post

Quote to Note

“I certainly don’t condone ­people flying mini-helicopters around government buildings, but I think it’s a powerful statement when a person is willing to actually risk his life for campaign finance reform.”

Daniel Weeks to The Washington Post on the decision of a Florida man to land a gyrocopter on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol to protest the influence of wealthy donors on the nation's political system

Today in TribTalk

Texas' "border security" strategy is anything but conservative, by José Rodríguez — The state's approach to securing the border is the very definition of throwing money at a trumped-up issue that helps politicians win elections but serves no public policy purpose.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    Energy: The Next Five Years on April 24 at at SMU in Dallas

•    A One-Day Symposium on Health Care on May 4 at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin

•    A Conversation With John Sharp on May 7 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation About Texas Monthly's Best and Worst Legislators 2015 on June 18 at The Austin Club

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