Texas Senate Approves Senator Hinojosa's Plan To Fund Indigent Health Care in the RGV
S.B. 1623 Will allow Hospitals to Receive Millions in Federal Funding
AUSTIN — Yesterday, Senate Bill 1623, authored by Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, passed overwhelmingly in the Senate Chamber that would help hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley leverage more federal funds for indigent healthcare under the federal 1115 Waiver program.
"S.B. 1623 is a unique and innovative way of coming up with a structure that does not cost taxpayers any money. This legislation is critical for Hidalgo, Cameron and Webb counties who do not have a public hospital system in their communities and yet they serve the largest uninsured population in the United States. In Hidalgo County alone, almost 40% of residents are uninsured, compared to 24% in Texas," said Hinojosa.
Because these counties do not have hospital taxing districts, they do not have enough intergovernmental transfer funds to draw down the federal money. However, S.B. 1623 would solve this problem and allow these three counties to create a "Local Provider Participation Fund."
"The hospitals would assess a fee on themselves based on each outpatient that is served and the bill prohibits this fee from being passed on to a patient. Then that fee is put into the Local Provider Fund and used to draw down federal monies on a 60-40 match. It is a win-win situation because the hospitals also recapture the 40% they contributed. Roughly $541 million in federal funds is available to our hospitals in these counties to pay for uncompensated care, but a funding mechanism is needed to take advantage of this or the money will be left sitting on the table in Washington."
"Health care is not a luxury, it is a necessity as our population continues to grow and age. We have to find ways to fund healthcare locally. I am proud of the bipartisan support that was shown in the Senate today for our RGV communities and recognizing that this legislation is critical for our hospitals to be able to treat our indigent population," Hinojosa stated.
S.B. 1623 will now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.