From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
April 9, 2001
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-8393

Bipartisan Coalition Backs Plan to Reorganize Medicaid Program

Legislation would improve efficiency, promote accountability in Texas' largest health program

(Austin)// A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from the House and Senate's budget and health committees have agreed on a plan that will improve efficiency and save taxpayer dollars in one of the largest programs in the Texas budget.

Senate Finance Chairman Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), Senator Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock), Senator Chris Harris (R-Harris), Senator Mike Moncrief (D-Fort Worth), Senator Steve Ogden (R-Bryan), Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), House Appropriations Chairman Robert Junell (D-San Angelo), Representative Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), Representative Craig Eiland (D-Galveston), Representative Patricia Gray (D-Galveston), Representative Kyle Janek (R-Houston) and Governor Rick Perry all signed off on the concept of Medicaid reorganization as proposed in CSSB 1156, by Zaffirini, legislation which will improve organization and accountability in the $10 billion Medicaid program (FY 01). Representative Coleman is the sponsor of HB 2541, the House companion of CSSB 1156.

"Under the current rules, there are too many chefs in the Medicaid kitchen," said Chairman Ellis. "This smart government reform will lead to greater efficiency and accountability in the Medicaid program, and improve the delivery of health care across Texas."

"This pulls together purchased services in Medicaid, which makes good financial and business sense," said Representative Coleman. "It also increases accountability to the taxpayers and improves efficiency in the provision of critical health services to Texans.

Committee Substitute to Senate Bill 1156 consolidates all functions of the Medicaid program under the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) in order to increase efficiency, accountability, identify cost savings and improve the delivery of health care in Texas. Currently, though the Texas Department of Health (TDH) is responsible for administering the Medicaid program, six different agencies -- Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MHMR), Health and Human Services Commission, Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (TCADA), Department of Protective & Regulatory Services (DPRS), Commission for the Blind, and Interagency Council on Early Childhood Intervention -- also receive Medicaid funding. This fragmented structure has been criticized for creating duplication of important services across agencies, and blurring the lines of accountability for the program.

Committee Substitute to Senate Bill 1156 grants authority to the Health and Human Services Commission to transfer certain Medicaid functions from other agencies to HHSC to improve efficiency and accountability in the program. The legislation consolidates the program operations for traditional services, and allows the Texas Department of Health to return to their intended public health mission.