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TX Faces Medicaid Hurdle After Biden Administration Revokes Waiver

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Texas has both the nation's highest rate and total number of individuals who lack health insurance. (Pixabay)
Texas has both the nation's highest rate and total number of individuals who lack health insurance. (Pixabay)
 By Roz Brown - Producer, Contact
April 23, 2021

AUSTIN, Texas - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says if Texas wants the Medicaid waiver it was granted in the final days of the Trump administration, it would need to reapply.

The Biden administration rescinded a 10-year extension of what's known as Texas' Medicaid 1115 Transformation waiver.

Arguing that all Texans deserve a voice in the future of Medicaid, the Episcopal Health Foundation agrees with the decision. President and CEO Elena Marks said the waiver would have allowed Texas to continue paying hospitals for the bills of uninsured patients.

Marks said Texans don't have real health coverage solutions because Medicaid hasn't been expanded.

"And that means that Texas has the largest number, and the largest percentage, of uninsured people in the country," she said. "And the more uninsured people you have, the more uncompensated care you have."

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found the Trump administration "materially erred" by speeding approval of the state's $100 billion request in January. Marks said now, there will be more transparency, including public notice and a comment period.

Texas lawmakers have approved bills this session to address gaps in health coverage, but Marks said she believes a better option would be to expand Medicaid, so Texans who qualify would have an insurance card.

"So that they can go to a doctor, so that they can get medicine, so that they can prevent themselves from needing to be in a hospital," said Marks. "And so that, if they need to be in a hospital, they have insurance that can pay a hospital."

It's estimated if Texas opted for expansion, the state could get $5.6 billion in federal funding over two years, assuming one million uninsured people eligible for Medicaid coverage sign up for the program.

Disclosure: Episcopal Health Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Mental Health, Philanthropy, Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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