Ed De La Garza
Crystal J. Doucette
Putting our ducks in a
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
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
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.