Thursday, January 25, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 82



Staff Editorial


Tom Carpenter                      Ed De La Garza                       Crystal J. Doucette 
Romina Kim                           Jim Parsons


Putting our ducks in a row

Gov. Rick Perry is concerned about the children of our state, but he doesn't want to go broke in the process. Coming on the heels of a proposed $110 billion budget that's already being questioned for its $95 million increased prison bed allocation, that seems like a good idea.

Twelve Texas legislators decided they would pick up the tab. Or, rather, the State of Texas would.

A $400 million dollar Medicaid simplification program would bring Harris County taxpayers and struggling families statewide a much-needed financial break.

Almost half of all uninsured children in Texas are eligible for Medicaid but are not enrolled because of the current program's red tape.

When these youth are treated by a hospital, the county picks up the bill. The Harris County Hospital District shelled out an estimated $9.8 million last year in assistance to Medicaid-eligible children.

As a result, the county raised the hospital district's tax rate by 38 percent.

Although the $400 million simplification proposal could save Harris County taxpayers $10 million a year, there's one little problem.

The proposed Texas budget doesn't include the program's reform, and the projected surplus for the year is $300 million.

Supporters in the state legislature say that they will find the extra funds for the reformation, but where will they find $100 million?

Either other programs that have been allocated money in the proposed budget will lose funding, or the legislature will raise state taxes to make up for the deficit and pull in a little extra for the next year.

A reform of the Medicaid program may increase the number of children who receive medical care. It may reduce expenses of the Harris County Hospital District. It may reduce taxes for county residents.

It will wipe out this year's projected surplus and the possibility of funding other programs that may need additional funding throughout the fiscal year.

A simplification of the Medicaid program is a good idea and children do need medical care.

It's wonderful that the Texas legislature is thinking about the health of the state's youth, but legislators are not thinking about the future of the state.

The State of Texas should wait until there is enough money in the budget to reform and run the Medicaid program -- with a nice sum left over.

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