Monday, at the end of the Texas legislative session (Sine Die) a call for Governor Perry to include the Health Care Compact legislation in the Special Session was issued by Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin.
Legislation containing the Health Care Compact was approved twice by the Texas House and once by the Texas Senate. However, the final legislation containing the compact died due to tactics by a handful of House members.
Democrats voiced concern in the House, though many voted for it.
Kolkhorst said she was holding hostage SB 8, a key element of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s state health reform plan, to wait for her Health Care Compact bill to come up in the Senate. SB 8 provides a framework for health care collaboratives — the partnerships between hospitals, doctors and other health care providers that supporters say could lead to better medical quality and cost savings.
The House overwhelmingly passed SB 8. But some of those who supported it were still concerned with adding the Health Care Compact portion. Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, is an ardent opponent of the Health Care Compact — and said funding Medicaid with block grants is dangerous, because the money is based on standard inflation, not medical inflation, which grows at a far greater rate.
The compact language was straightforward:
The compact language was added to Senate Bill 8, which would allow doctors and hospitals to form health care collaboratives in hopes of improving efficiency and medical care. The bill next returns to the Senate, which can accept House changes with a simple majority or send it to a conference committee to work out the differences.
“Medicaid in its present form is unsustainable for Texas,” said TPPF Executive Director Arlene Wohlgemuth. “Without the flexibility and cost predictability provided by the Health Care Compact, the federal Medicaid program will further crowd out core state government functions such as education, public safety, and transportation.”
“Texans can decide for ourselves how to take care of our health needs," said House Public Health Chair Lois Kolkhorst. “With medical costs rising faster than inflation, let’s replace big government solutions with local oversight. Texas could create its own health care solutions, save billions of tax dollars, and still deliver better health outcomes. That’s what the Health Care Compact is all about. It’s unfortunate that a handful of House members put their own agenda ahead of Texas.”