Items of Interest Compiled by Arnold Public Affairs
State Leadership has called for agencies to find another 2.5% in cuts for the current fiscal year
HHSC says Medicaid reimbursement rates will be cut – for Medicaid/CHIP acute care services 1% and for nursing facilities and community-based services 2%
Fundraising for legislators ends this week as we reach the 30-day before the session deadline. It will start up again with the end of the session
31 days and 17 hours until the legislative session starts
TEXAS LEADERS ORDER AGENCIES TO CUT 2.5% MORE
Another round of budget-cutting began rippling through Texas government Tuesday as the state’s top three leaders ordered officials to identify 2.5 percent in additional cuts for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 1. Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus issued the order in a letter to the heads of state agencies, courts and public universities. Officials were braced for the bad news after the three announced their intentions several weeks ago. The Health and Human Services Commission responded by announcing a $42 million reduction in rates paid to providers of services to low-income beneficiaries of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Years ago, a lawmaker/math teacher who was among the best friends public education ever has had in the Capitol offered this observation when a more conservative colleague said throwing money at Texas schools was not the answer. Maybe not, said then-Rep. Ernestine Glossbrenner, D-Alice. But, she added, it was hard to tell because Texas never had tried that approach. Whether you believe Texas has been overly stingy or cavalierly generous when it comes to education dollars, there is no denying the state spends a ton on what might be the most important thing state government does
WHAT DO TEXAS DEMOCRATS DO NOW — AND WHO’LL LEAD THEM?
On that front, observers say the Democrats find themselves at a crossroads on style and substance, politics and policy. With massive budget cuts looming, should they effectively sit out the session and force Republicans in the majority to have all the blood on their hands in order to win back seats in 2012? Or should they participate just enough to soften the blow in the areas they care about the most: education and health care? After all, with the wipeout of so many incumbents, the survivors gained mightily in seniority, upping their chances of getting good committee assignments and wielding what little power remains.
WE MUSTN’T IGNORE THE CHILD OBESITY PROBLEM IN TEXAS
Here in what we often think of as a healthy Austin and an athletic Texas, an epidemic is targeting our children. A condition that harms every organ system in the body, ravages quality of life and shortens its victims’ lifespan has also become alarmingly common. It strikes almost one out of four Texas fourth-graders. The condition is obesity, and like any public health epidemic, it demands our shared attention. This is a serious health problem for many children, but it is a challenge for every Texan.
BERMAN FILES BILL TO CRIMINALIZE ENFORCEMENT OF FEDERAL HEALTH CARE LAW
“Thomas Jefferson believed in nullification. I believe in nullification and I just wanted to try it. The nullification bill says we believe the Obamacare bill is unconstitutional and therefore in Texas null and void,” Berman said. The bill says any attempt to implement the new health care law in Texas would be a criminal act.
TDI BANS DISCRETIONARY CLAUSES FOR DISABILITY AND HEALTH CARE POLICIES
Texas consumers got a boost from state Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin, who issued an order banning discretionary clauses from insurance policies, calling them unjust and deceptive. Most commonly found in long-term disability policies and health care policies, the clauses have already been banned in 22 other states. The new rule goes into effect after Feb. 1 for disability claims and July 1 for all other types.
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