HHSC Is the Most Underfunded Health Care Agency in SB1

Today, Senate Finance began hearing testimony from Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies, which administer most of the state’s social services programs, such as health care for low-income Texans (4.3 million in 2013) enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP; child and adult protective services; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps; and community and nursing-home long-term care, to name just a few. The share of state spending in 2014-15 going to HHS would stay about the same, at 37% of the total budget. Almost three-fifths of the money for HHS agencies would come from federal dollars.

The Health and Human Services Commission receives the lion’s share of HHS dollars, and is also the most underfunded HHS agency in SB 1 as introduced. Medicaid caseloads are expected to reach 4.515 million by fiscal 2015, 11% higher than the 4.058 million included in SB 1 funding levels. Even worse, health care cost increases for Medicaid and CHIP are for the most part left out of the Senate’s budget draft. Paying for both current services enrollment and cost growth for Medicaid and CHIP would require $2.8 billion more in General Revenue, which would draw down another $3.4 billion in federal dollars.

After hearing from all HHS state agency officials, the Senators will take public testimony. If past sessions are any indication, much of it will be in support of an HHSC “exceptional item” proposing a 50-cent hourly wage increase for community care attendants. This would cost $177 million in GR in 2014-15, draw down $252 million in federal dollars, and most important of all, help reduce turnover and improve care received by community care clients.

At the Center for Public Policy Priorities, we believe in a Texas that offers everyone the chance to compete and succeed in life. We envision a Texas where everyone is healthy, well-educated, and financially secure. We want the best Texas - a proud state that sets the bar nationally by expanding opportunity for all. CPPP is an independent public policy organization that uses data and analysis to advocate for solutions that enable Texans of all backgrounds to reach their full potential. We dare Texas to be the best state for hard-working people and their families.

1 Comment

  • HUMM:
    I think Republicans may have figured out how to get rid of some of the trouble makers that inhabit the state. You can never be sure that you see them, because in most of Texas poor people are invisible. Yep, when I was poor and took the bus, and as a guy had long hair and a short beard, when I was downtown I was invisible, people looked right at me and did not see me.

    Republicans worry that poverty may be contageous, and they are not going to take chances. So, Republicans give the least away in the country for welfare (ya wannt get rich – go to Arkansas) for a mamma and children. 25% of Texans are without health insurance, the Republican answer, don’t catch a disease you can not afford. The schools are terribly funded, but it is the fault of the poor kids for picking broke parents in that case. Yep the Republicans figure that if they can make it bad enough the poor will move on to other states like California, or Florida where they can get enough to eat.

    I remember in the primaries they were arguing which candidate would win the heart of the Republican party. It was later annoucnced that the Texas Republican party had no heart, so it made the contest easier.

    Ken 04.02.2013

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