Texas and other states seek easing of Medicaid rules

prescription drugs

Texas is likely to join other states in asking for Medicaid waivers to give them a small margin of independence as they attempt to adjust to President Obama’s health care act.

The difficulty of winning that flexibility is laid out nicely today by Texas Tribune. In some cases, states are asking for the waivers to trim their Medicaid rolls. Some officials have sent signals that they could defy the health care law in an attempt to force the Obama administration to take some kind of action.

Texas officials are bridling at the constriction of the federal Medicaid harness. In a less restrictive climate officials would have the freedom to decide on the services to offer, or to channel patients to primary care doctors and away from emergency rooms by requiring them to pay for part of those emergency room visits; some would prefer the federal government to deliver Medicaid funding in a block grant, leaving the details to the states.

“We need a system that provides for a more market-based health care delivery model that emphasizes individuals sharing in their health care decisions and responsibilities,” Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, told Texas Tribune.

“The state puts up almost half of the funding for Medicaid,” Tom Suehs, executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission told the Tribune.  “But we don’t have an equal say in program decisions.”

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, in a recent letter to governors, promised to “expedite review of state ideas” and offered ways states could realize Medicaid savings.
 
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Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of pill bottle by flickr user Charles Williams, used via a Creative Commons license.