By Bethany Blankley | The central square
EEleven Texas Congressional Democrats have called on the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to restore about $ 10 billion in funding to Texas hospitals.
In a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Democrats urge the administration to restore funding that is “essential to protect our most vulnerable Texans and preserve our safety net “.
The 11 members of Congress who sent the letter included Collin Allred, Joaquin Castro, Henry Cuellar, Veronica Escobar, Lizzie Fletcher, Al Green, Vincente Gonzalez, Sheila Jackson Lee, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Marc Veasey and Filemon Vela, who called the administration last month to restore funding.
Vera also called on the administration to find an immediate and short-term solution, as “further delays threaten the stability of the existing safety net”.
The Medicaid 1115 waiver program, which is part of Social Security law, allows states to test new or existing ways of providing and paying for health services in the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP ).
Shortly after President Joe Biden took office, his administration rescinded the waiver due to a procedural issue with the paperwork. CMS Acting Trustee Liz Richter wrote in an April 15 letter to Texas officials that her approval was revoked because “she did not go through the entire federal rule-making process.” Texas denied the request.
The extension, which was slated to run through 2030, is said to have provided $ 11 billion a year in funding for healthcare in Texas, including unpaid care.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued, arguing that “the Biden administration cannot just break a contract and overthrow the Texas Medicaid system without warning. This disgusting and illegal abuse of power targeting sovereign states must end. “
U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker sided with Texas in August, ordering funding reinstated.
CMS last month approved two of five Directed Payment Programs (PLRs), which had been the subject of negotiations between Texas and CMS. The Congress delegation calls for the reinstatement of all programs.
The problem is funding from the Local Provider Participation Fund (LPPF), which “is a critical part of our health care safety net in Texas, especially in parts of the state, such as the region. southern border and the 89 counties of Texas where Medicaid patients are located. primarily served by nongovernmental hospitals, where Medicaid recipients already have limited access to care, ”lawmakers wrote.
David Balat, who leads health care initiatives at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told The Center Square: “It is clear from CMS actions that it is more important for them to extend Medicaid to adults. valid than to fund an important security. mosquito net programs for women and children. Medicaid was created to protect these populations and we must do what we can to improve the current Medicaid program, not stifle existing programs in favor of political ideology.
The rejection of the waiver was seen as an attempt to get Texas to participate in the federal government’s oversight of the Medicaid expansion of the Affordable Care Act, a move Texas continues to reject.
The Washington Post reported earlier this year that the administration had already forced a dozen recalcitrant states to agree to the Medicaid expansion by canceling funding or through other measures. If Texas were to participate, it would receive $ 3.9 billion in funding over two years and more than two million uninsured people would be eligible for Medicaid coverage, the Post reported.
Paxton described Biden’s “attempt to force our state to expand Medicaid – the Biden administration’s ultimate goal” – as “deplorable” and “illegal.”
The Democratic delegation said it wholeheartedly supports the expansion of Medicaid, but until that happens, it has called for the reinstatement of funding, which is “essential to protect our most vulnerable Texans and preserve our safety net “.
The Texas Indigent Healthcare Association and the Texas Essential Healthcare Partnerships (TEHP) also sent a letter to CMS, stating that “Texas’ indigent care programs are built on the viability of our local safety net hospitals. Right now, our communities are feeling the pressure of the decision not to approve three Medicaid managed care-led payment programs. They said they hoped CMS would approve the programs before the end of the year.
“Countless Texans are currently at risk of losing vital health services due to the deadlock on Waiver 1115,” TEHP President Don Lee said in a statement. “Those who are uninsured and underinsured cannot afford to do without these essential health programs and TEHP is grateful to have allies in its efforts to restore this funding immediately. “