Key Texas lawmaker supports Medicaid policy change


Highlights

Federal policy change unlikely to have much effect in Texas since state already limits Medicaid eligibility.

Sen. Schwertner: Medicaid recipients “should bear some responsibility for the cost of their own health care.”

An influential Texas lawmaker says he supports a new federal policy that allows states to impose work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, who chairs the Texas Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, said the policy change will allow states more flexibility with their health care systems. The new policy,however, would have less impact in Texas than in some other states due to Texas’ already limited Medicaid eligibility for nonworking residents.

“I’ve said for years that Medicaid is a costly and broken system, and that we need to explore all available options to put this program on a more sustainable fiscal trajectory, including co-payments, health savings accounts, and work requirements where appropriate,” Schwertner said in a written statement. “I believe that every Medicaid or welfare recipient who is capable of working, particularly those in expansion states, should be expected to bear some responsibility for the cost of their own health care.”

By imposing work requirements, proponents say states could better control Medicaid costs, especially in states that have expanded their Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. Federal officials cited a request by Medicaid officials in 10 states that did not include Texas to begin demonstration projects that test work requirements.

The impact of the new policy in Texas will be minimal, said state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, who also sits on the state Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee.

“This barely applies to Texas because Texas’ Medicaid program is such a limited program,” Watson said. “Most adults who can work here are ineligible and those who can’t work are eligible.”

Theoretically, Texas could seek to change those exemptions. Changes could be taken up by the Legislature, Watson said.

Watson, however, said he doesn’t see state officials changing current exemptions for nonworking Medicaid recipients.

“I would hope that we don’t start targeting (nonworking) lower-income people that have health care issues,” he said. “I would raise all sorts of Cain if we start targeting those extremely vulnerable people.”

Editor’s note: The story has been updated to clarify that Schwertner did not say the new policy would have less impact in Texas, and to correct a typographical error in Watson’s comments.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

12 charged in high school basketball brawl
12 charged in high school basketball brawl

Twelve people, including students and adults, will be charged in connection with a fight at a Pennsylvania high school basketball game earlier this month, police said. They face disorderly conduct charges. Clairton police released details about the Feb. 6 brawl at Clairton High School between Clairton and Monessen. Police said it began as a fight between...
Cross-country team cleans up overflowing trash in elderly couple’s yard
Cross-country team cleans up overflowing trash in elderly couple’s yard

A high school cross-country team in upstate New York helped an elderly couple take out the trash Saturday -- lots of it. Ann and Robert Dobson live in the Rochester suburb of Greece. For more than six years, garbage from a nearby shopping plaza has blown onto the Dobsons’ front yard, Rochester First reported "Last summer when I cleaned...
UPDATE: I-35 reopens following fatality; officer hit and injured
UPDATE: I-35 reopens following fatality; officer hit and injured

Update 1:15 p.m.: Interstate 35 has been reopened to traffic, according to Round Rock police officials. Update 12 p.m.: Interstate 35 should be open within the next hour or two following the two accidents, according to Round Rock police officials. 9:15 a.m.: A Round Rock police officer was struck and seriously injured around 6:40 a.m. Sunday while...
College student discovers true paternity in science class
College student discovers true paternity in science class

One woman got a whole lot more than she paid for in a college science class when she uncovered a nasty family secret. The unnamed student discovered that her father — the man who had raised her since she was a child and who she called “dad” for her entire life — wasn’t really her father. He was her uncle. And the...
WEATHER: A chance of showers for Austin area, storms move east
WEATHER: A chance of showers for Austin area, storms move east

Update 12:30 p.m.: A 40 percent chance of rain lingers over the Austin area, but the thunderstorms have pressed eastward, National Weather Service meteorologist Cory Panpelt said. “We had some that went through Williamson County, but it’s moved out,” Panpelt said. “It’s all east of (Interstate) 35, going up through Bastrop...
More Stories