Capitol Update: TAFP Board of Directors unanimously supports Medicaid expansion
At last weekend’s Interim Session, TAFP’s Commission on Legislative and Public Affairs put forth a motion that the Academy support expansion of the state’s Medicaid program to meet the health care needs of Texans, which the Board of Directors approved unanimously at their Saturday night meeting.
“We have an historic opportunity to leverage significant federal funds to provide working-age uninsured Texans with health insurance coverage to shield them from catastrophic events and medical bankruptcy,” says TAFP President Troy Fiesinger, M.D. “Medicaid expansion also protects our state’s economic health and the fiscal well-being of hospitals and county governments.”
The Affordable Care Act would allow states to expand Medicaid coverage to adults under age 65 that are below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or around $31,000 a year for a family of four. The first three years’ costs would be covered 100 percent by the federal government.
A report prepared by Billy Hamilton for Texas Impact and Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. explains why the state would benefit from expanding Medicaid, calling it “smart, affordable, and fair.” The document says that Texas has a higher rate of uninsured citizens than any other state, at 23.8 percent in 2011, while the national rate is 15.7 percent. Hamilton says that a Medicaid expansion would decrease the number of uninsured Texans by 25 percent, assuming a reasonable amount of people take part in the program.
In addition to aiding in the state’s high numbers of uncovered citizens, the report says that expanding Medicaid would bring approximately 231,000 new jobs to Texas by 2016, and it would enhance the state’s financial yield by $67.9 billion during the 2014-17 fiscal years. Click here to see the report in its entirety.
“Through the expansion of Medicaid, Texas can emphasize personal responsibility within the system while investing in graduate medical education to increase our state’s capacity to recruit and train new physicians," Fiesenger says. "These strategies will help ensure that all Texans can access appropriate, high-quality and cost-effective health care when they need it.”
Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition continues fight for restoration of funding
The Senate Finance Committee approved an additional $100 million for the Department of State Health Services budget for women’s preventive health services. This funding will be added to the $114 million that was already allocated to women’s health earlier in the session and will be dispersed through the Community Primary Services Program.
Both Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, and Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, supported the increased funding for women’s health care in a TribLive interview with the Texas Tribune last week. On preventive services for women across the state, Zerwas said that “we want them to be able to access those services, because what we don’t want is by virtue of not having services, they have unwanted pregnancies.”
The coalition, of which TAFP is a steering committee member, is hosting Women’s Healthcare Advocacy Day Wednesday, March 20, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. For more information on attending, go to www.TexasWHC.org.
Thanks to the Physicians of the Day
Spots still available through May
Thanks to the physicians who volunteered to serve as Physician of the Day in the last several days: Kelly Gabler, M.D., of Houston; Lindsay Botsford, M.D., of Houston, who brought third-year residents Alondra Gutierrez, M.D., and Zynab Hassan. M.D.; Charlie Risinger, M.D., of Terrell; Michael Lyons, D.O., of Webster; Elliot Trestor, M.D., of Austin; and Melissa Benavides, M.D., of San Antonio.
The Physician of the Day program brings family physicians to the Capitol each day of the legislative session to provide health care to members of the Capitol community. Dates are still available throughout the rest of the session. For more information on how to sign up and to view the calendar of open dates, go to the Physician of the Day page of the TAFP website, www.tafp.org/advocacy/get-involved/physician-of-the-day.