Texas Hosts Public Comment Period on Controversial Medicaid Waiver
WACO, Texas (KWTX) – The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) allowed the public to vote on Wednesday on a multibillion-dollar, 10-year Medicaid waiver it previously negotiated in the last days of the Trump administration.
Texas is using the waiver, in large part, to reimburse hospitals that provide care to uninsured Texans, instead of increasing the number of Texans eligible for Medicaid coverage in the first place.
In April, the Biden administration rescinded the waiver agreement because Texas had not held a public comment period, which is required by law.
The HHSC plans to hold two more public comment periods on June 10 and 15.
The commission said it plans to resubmit the original 10-year agreement to the Biden administration after the three comment periods.
During the comment period on Wednesday, several participants urged the state to consider expanding Medicaid as it resubmits its waiver agreement.
“Part of this waiver provides a flow of funding for hospitals to offset what they pay when providing care to uninsured Texans,” Tiffany Hogue, policy director for the Texas Organizing Project, told KWTX.
“More effective care – both cost-effective and efficient – is expanding Medicaid and giving people access to primary care where they can catch things sooner,” she said.
Others urged the state to move the waiver forward as quickly as possible.
“We envision 300,000 people unable to continue services and approximately $ 366 million to drop out of the public mental health system,” Shannon Hoffman, policy program specialist at the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, told KWTX.
She said that if an agreement on the waiver is not reached, funding for some of the state’s public mental health programs could be phased out.
The Texas legislature refused to extend Medicaid this legislative session.
Last month, Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration over its decision to overturn the waiver, saying the move was politically motivated.
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