Texas Democrats Trying To Pass Medicaid Enrollment Extension Before June 1 Deadline
Democrats in the Texas House on Monday called on lawmakers to prioritize consideration of a Medicaid bill (HB 1541) that would extend the enrollment period for children's coverage through the program, the AP/Dallas Morning News reports. The legislative session ends June 1.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Sylvester Turner (D), would expand the program's six-month enrollment period to 12 months, which Turner says would allow 250,000 additional children to obtain coverage. Parents must renew their children's enrollment every six months and prove that they are still eligible.
Andrea Whitman, an analyst with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said that the estimated $300 million cost of covering 250,000 more children through Medicaid would be a considerable burden given the state's need to cut spending to deal with a projected 2011 budget deficit. Supporters say the expansion would bring about $500 million from the federal stimulus package.
Opponents of the extension also say that the six-month requirement ensures that only children who cannot afford health care coverage are enrolled. According to the bill's supporters, the extension would improve children's access to primary care and lower state health care costs by keeping them from seeking care in emergency departments (AP/Dallas Morning News, 5/12).