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April 28, 2011 (512) 463-0300

SENATE APPROVES HEALTHCARE SAVINGS BILL

Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound
Flower Mound Senator Jane Nelson passed a bill to access almost half a billion dollars in Medicaid savings.

(AUSTIN) — Texas could save nearly half a billion dollars in healthcare spending over the next two years under a bill passed by the Senate Thursday. The bill is a result of the work of Flower Mound Senator Jane Nelson's Subcommittee on Medicaid, which found potential savings in the program of nearly $3 billion. Most of those savings can be realized through rule changes and other non-statutory requirements. The bill passed Thursday, SB 23 authored by Nelson, implements the statutory changes necessary to save $467.8 million of that money.

In order to achieve the savings, SB 23 would expand Medicaid managed care, moving the prescription drug benefit into managed care and expanding managed care in south Texas. It would abolish the State Kids Insurance Program and move those currently covered under the program into the Children's Health Insurance Program, drawing down more federal dollars while not reducing coverage. The bill also makes a number of other changes to personal attendant services, electronic visit verification for the Department of Aging and Disability Services and other fund changes, without an anticipated reduction or interruption of services.

The Senate also approved a bill to improve teacher accountability at Texas public schools. SB 3, by Plano Senator and Education Committee Chair Florence Shapiro, would direct the education commissioner to work with all stakeholders to develop a teacher appraisal system to evaluate the quality of teachers. While the Education Commissioner would develop the final evaluation system, teacher effectiveness could not exceed 50 percent or be less than 30 percent of the overall evaluation score. Teachers would also have to be observed by an evaluator for 45 minutes at least twice a year. The bill also includes provisions for the creation of a probationary teaching certificate, which would apply to new teachers until their third year.

Both bills now head to the House for consideration.

The Senate will reconvene Friday, April 29 at 9 a.m.


Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.

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