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Senate Committee Considers Other Options For Covering Texas Uninsured Population

Since a federal block grant to create an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is unlikely, lawmakers are considering what other options may be available in 2015 in order to cover that portion of Texas’ uninsured population.

In 2013, Gov. Rick Perry sent the state Legislature a clear message that the state would not be participating in the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid. Perry said the state would seek a block grant to allow the state to create it’s own solution for finding coverage for the millions of working Texans who don’t qualify for Medicaid and can’t afford insurance. 

State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, laid out just what the committee is working toward.

“My intention for this interim hearing is to start a conversation that will give us what services are currently available to those individuals and ways that we can fill gaps in a fiscally responsible manner," Schwertner said.

Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Dr. Kyle Janeck is not giving up on the idea of a block grant told the legislative committee what exactly the state is asking of the federal government.

"Yes, we have asked for copays, simply because we see so many folks who take something that is given to them and this has nothing to do with anyone’s social economic status and everything to do with human nature," Janek said. "And that is: that which is given to you you don’t seem to value as much as that which you had a hand in not just paying for but selecting.”

Janeck said working out that compromise with the federal government can take up to a year or more and during the interim lawmakers are considering alternatives, like leveraging more local resources to help provide this population of Texans access to care.