The 83rd Texas Legislative Session for Texas convenes at noon on January 8, 2013. We thank our legislators for their public service to the State of Texas and hope for a constructive, collaborative bipartisan session regarding our state issues. Many priorities relating to the budget, public education, transportation, labor and workforce and the state’s environment will be discussed and reviewed.
Health care, especially Medicaid, will be front and center as most components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will now be implemented in 2013 and 2014 across our state and in North Texas.These health care reform initiatives are very important because the health care delivery occurs at the local level with local providers. Since Texas leads the nation in the percentage of uninsured (27 percent), the coverage and access issues will need to be discussed and appropriate action taken so we reduce the number of uninsured. Six million Texans have no health insurance including 1.2 million children and nearly one in three Texas working-age adults (ages 19-64) have no insurance. Even though we are fortunate to have a robust Texas economy compared to many states, we have a very large “working uninsured” group, which we estimate to be 2-3 million Texans who vote, serve our country and provide a valuable economic service. Texas needs successful state health insurance exchanges and expanded Medicaid coverage because both will aid in lowering the percentage of uninsured.
All stakeholders need to work collaboratively for successful implementation of the 1115 Medicaid Waiver. The Delivery System Reform Incentive Payments (DSRIP) projects address community health care needs under this Medicaid Waiver, ultimately providing needed care for our patients. If the DSRIP initiatives are successful, we will enhance patient care coordination, promote consumer engagement, integrate behavioral care with primary care, focus on prevention, immunization and improve the oral care for patients. The DSRIP projects will also concentrate on expanding the primary care and specialty care provider networks to offer better access for patients.
We support adequate state funding of nurse, physician and allied health professional education programs. We need Graduate Medical Education (GME) formula funding and support restoring the Medicaid GME Program in order for medical schools and hospitals to maintain adequate residency programs to train the increased number of adult and pediatric physicians needed across Texas.
We know bipartisan cooperation will be extremely important as our legislative leaders initiate change in our state Medicaid, CHIP and other programs during the 83rd Texas Legislative Session. We realize some parts of the ACA and Medicaid are not perfect and will require some refinement so hospitals in North Texas stand ready to work cooperatively with all stakeholders to provide cost effective, efficient health care producing positive outcomes for our patients.