in Houston, Texas
See the profile of Texas’ health chief Tom Suehs at Texas Health Care Report
Wednesday, Jun 08, 2011, 04:48PM CST
By Lee Ann O'Neal
Tom Suehs

Over at Texas Health Care Report, a project of Texas Watchdog, we published a profile today of Tom Suehs, Texas’ Health and Human Services commissioner. Suehs, pictured left, will be front-and-center as the national health care act is implemented (or if the state does an end-run around it, if lawmakers in some quarters have their way). Here are some highlights:

On the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: If the health care act isn’t stopped, Suehs is faced with what he says is an untenable deadline of 2014 for the implementation of a mammoth law whose ramifications are little understood.

“I don’t think the goals of the Affordable Care Act and the state of Texas are incompatible, but not in the time frame expected of us,” Suehs says. “The Affordable Care Act is unthinkable without Medicaid reform, and we don’t have time for the reform before the act kicks in.”

On Medicaid reforms: Suehs has developed a five-year plan for consolidating Medicaid funding streams and other reforms he said would save the state and the federal government $60 billion. The plan and those savings make up the core of House Bill 13 by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, which has been placed on the calendar for consideration in the special session.

The people behind the numbers: Going out and seeing things firsthand is what sets Suehs apart from other state department heads, Tim Graves, the president of the Texas Health Care Association, says. Graves first met Suehs 30 years ago when Graves worked for the state Legislative Budget Board. Suehs hired Graves in 1995 when Suehs was the president of the association.

“In the time I’ve been here Tom has been out visiting nursing homes, meeting with eligibility officers, taking the time to see what the people of Texas really need,” Graves says. “The key thing to me is he has a keen grasp of how the numbers work, but he understands the number of people that lie behind the numbers.”

Read the full story by going to Texas Health Care Report here.
 
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Contact Lee Ann O’Neal at 713-980-9777 or leeann@texaswatchdog.org.

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