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May 21, 1998     (512) 463-0300

HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEES HOLD JOINT HEARING AT STATE CAPITOL

AUSTIN - Texas representatives and senators met in a unique joint hearing on Thursday, May 21, at the State Capitol to hear testimony regarding state children's health insurance programs and their funding. Members of the Senate Interim Committee on Children's Health Insurance, the House Committee on Appropriations, and the House Committee on Public Health listened to invited testimony from various state agencies and commissions.

The Senate Committee on Children's Health Insurance is chaired by Senator Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth and includes Senators Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso and Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant. The 25-member House Committee on Appropriations is chaired by Representative Robert Junell of San Angelo and vice-chaired by Representative Dianne Delisi of Temple. Representative John Hirschi of Wichita Falls chairs the 8-member House Committee on Public Health.

The Legislative Budget Board provided the members with facts about Children's Health Insurance Programs, or CHIP, including what health benefits they offer, comparisons with other states' CHIP programs, and how federal financing works. To increase the number of children with health insurance in the state, CHIP programs are targeted to children at or below the federal poverty level. The members were also briefed on the program's funding, federal matching scale, limitations, and eligibility regulations.

Other testimony provided came from Rhonda Myron with the Texas Department of Insurance and Ty Hamilton who gave an overview of the Texas Healthy Kids Corporation. Linda Wetz gave an overview of the programs from the State Medicaid Office. Presenting the Governor's Proposal for CHIP was Dr. Reyn Archer who serves as the Texas Commissioner of Health.

The committees also looked into the CHIP eligibility regulations. The staff from the Health and Human Services Commission provided the members with an eligibility policy presentation. The members then heard from a panel of witnesses regarding eligibility policies.

Each committee will gather their findings and make any recommendations to the 76th Legislature which convenes in January of next year.

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