in Houston, Texas
Near-doubling of patient rolls adds to Medicaid warning signs in Texas
Tuesday, May 08, 2012, 10:42AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

It, it, it just keeps coming. Swallows up everything in its way, getting bigger and bigger. Nothing can stop it. Oh, my stars. It’s horrible.

No, not "The Blob," the awful 1958 science fiction film that nearly wiped out the careers of Steve McQueen and Burt Bacharach before they got started. Medicaid in Texas.

Texas Watchdog tried to warn you it was coming in January of 2011, when the Texas Public Policy Foundation published a study that said Medicaid was an unstoppable health care blob with the power to bankrupt every state in the country.

Then is was Tom Suehs, the executive commissioner of the state Department of Health and Human Services, whose promises to reform Medicaid were followed by a warning to the Legislature in February $15 to $17 billion more in general revenue needed to be laid in the blob’s path.

Comes now Billy Millwee, Suehs’ Medicaid director, in charge of carrying out a legislative plan to cut as much as $470 million in blobber (we just couldn’t help ourselves) from Medicaid’s inexorable mass.

Millwee told the House Appropriations subcommittee the number of people qualifying for Medicaid has almost doubled since 2000 in Texas and no amount of fat trimming could make up for the $4.8 billion shortfall at which the program is currently running, an Associated Press story says.

Millwee told legislators that without significant changes to the program, they could find themselves $10 billion behind when they return in January for the 2013 session.

Having implemented a broad range of cost-saving measures, including a major managed care program for the Rio Grande Valley, Millwee said his agency would meet 88 percent of the savings estimated in the 2012 budget.

Put that up against a program that consumes 20 percent of the state budget and, if unchecked, could more than double over the next 20 years.

Don’t say that McQueen and Millwee and Watchdog didn’t warn you. Now, if I could only get that horrifying tune out of my head.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Poster for the 1958 movie "The Blob", in which an alien lifeform consumes people in a small Pennsylvania town.

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