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Reforming Texas health care for the poor

On March 20, the Texas Public Policy Foundation released a report that outlined a specific plan for Medicaid reform using a federal block grant. The plan provides an expansion model for Medicaid, the state-subsidized health program for those in poverty. Medicaid planning in Texas needs to improve because the state has the dubious honor of having the highest rate of uninsured people in the country and spends 25 percent of their budget on health care.

The TPPF observed that a block grant would help the state transfer its health care program from a benefits model to a contribution model with some recipients paying for part of their health care. Those in the program could choose between state-managed care or receive funds that would be placed in an account set aside for their health needs. The client would be responsible for managing the fund and could be penalized for failure to do so and frivolous use of their monies.

The governor's office believes the plan will work effectively and supports the common-sense approach that lets people take charge of their health care. They added that the flexibility of the program can work with this population and believe this plan could be a viable compromise that would expand state-subsidized health coverage while reducing overall costs and without implementing all aspects of the Affordable Care Act.

The proposed changes to the Texas Medicaid plan require more participant involvement and accountability. An attorney who focuses on elder law might be able to explain the plan and possible outcomes for those who have specific long-term care or medical needs.

Source: Texas Tribune, "TPPF Presents Plan to Reform Medicaid With Block Grant," Becca Aaronson, March 20, 2013

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