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February 7, 2005     (512) 463-0300
Senator Chris Harris of Arlington with members of the Texas High School Rodeo Association
Senator Chris Harris of Arlington with members of the Texas High School Rodeo Association.

Finance Committee Considers Health and Human Services Budget
Tim Flynn, appointed Capitol Nurse in 1992, stands with his wife Becky on the Senate Floor
Tim Flynn, appointed Capitol Nurse in 1992, stands with his wife Becky on the Senate Floor. Flynn is one of 10,000 nurses in Texas honored when the Senate declared February 7th Advanced Practice Nurses Day.

The Senate Finance committee heard Legislative Budget Board testimony today regarding the cost of state-financed health care in Texas. Of particular interest was testimony relating to the higher than average cost the state pays regarding Medicaid. The federal government mandates that in order for a state to participate in the Medicaid program, it must offer coverage to certain people, such as children and the elderly, and must cover individuals who fall within a certain range of the poverty level. In many cases, Texas covers individuals above the federal standards. In Texas, pregnant women and infants are covered up to 185% of the poverty level, while the federal government mandates states to cover the same groups at only 133% of the poverty level. Texas offers coverage for nursing home residents at 218% of the poverty level, a huge increase over the federal mandate of 74%.

The committee also heard testimony on the impact of cuts to the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) made during the 78th Legislative Session. The decrease in coverage meant a drop in cases of about 147,000 in 2004. Currently, the state offers continuous eligibility for 12 months for new enrollees. That means that should a child's parents' income change during that year, the child will not lose CHIP eligibility. Under the current appropriations bill drafted by the LBB, continuous eligibility would be reduced to six months.

Members of the Texas High School Rodeo Association were honored with a resolution in the Senate Chamber. The THSRA is the largest rodeo sponsoring organization in Texas, sponsoring more than 150 rodeos statewide. The association offers members and competitors awards in the form of prizes and scholarships.

The Senate Nominations Committee approved former state Representative Elizabeth Ames Jones as a candidate for appointment to the Texas Railroad Commission Board of Commisioners. Jones resigned as a Representative last year for the chance to serve on the board. Other candidates approved by the Nominations Committee were:

All nominees must be approved by the full Senate before they can take office.

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, February 8th, at 11:00 A.M

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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