MEDICAID REFORM NEEDED IN TEXAS

March 19, 2007

Austin's share of Medicaid, which Washington also helps finance, consumes about 25 percent of state spending.  And, because Medicaid serves some of fastest-growing populations -- from eligible young moms to middle-class nursing home residents -- the costs will only keep expanding, says the Dallas Morning News.

Fortunately, there are some, including Sen. Jane Nelson, who are trying to put parameters around the growth.  Under her plan:

  • The state would pay the premiums for qualifying workers so they can get on their employer's health plan; financing a private policy could cost the state less than paying full freight for Medicaid.
  • Officials would take aim at Medicaid cheats; those usually are the unscrupulous doctors who over bill the state for services the state shouldn't pay.
  • Medicaid recipients would be encouraged to keep healthy; a pilot program would reward them for healthier living, which could save Texas money.

What's unclear is whether the legislation could inadvertently hurt hospitals that serve many Medicaid patients.  Cost controls would be great -- assuming they don't create a whole new problem, says the News.

Source: Editorial, "Reform Medicaid before legislative session ends," Dallas Morning News, March 18, 2007.

 

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