I’m Doug Hawthorne, CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”
State legislators are facing unprecedented challenges during this year’s legislative session, including a projected budget shortfall of $26.8 billion. State agencies have been instructed to make budget cuts totaling $4.2 billion between 2010 and 2013, and many analysts expect that even deeper agency budget cuts will be mandated.
The state has funds on hand that could be used to address the budget shortfall. The Texas Rainy Day Fund's balance is approximately $8.2 billion. However, a two-thirds vote of the Legislature is required to access those funds, and many legislators are hesitant to do so.
Cuts to Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program benefits and eligibility levels have been declared off limits. But the budget reductions mandated to date do include a drop in reimbursement rates for hospitals, doctors and other health care providers who treat Medicaid patients. And since the health and human services budget is the state’s second largest expenditure behind only education, additional provider cuts may be proposed.
It is imperative for physicians and hospitals in Texas that legislators ensure adequate reimbursement to health care providers — at least covering their actual costs. This is particularly important for doctors who provide primary care to low-income children and their families, giving them an alternative to costly emergency room care.
For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based family of hospitals — Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Harris Methodist, and Texas Health Arlington Memorial — I’m Doug Hawthorne.