from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Leigh Flores
512/463-0121
May 27, 2001

MEDICAID RECIPIENTS TO BENEFIT FROM NEW PROCEDURES

Zaffirini bill simplifying Children's Medicaid eligibility passes both Houses of the Texas Legislature

Simplifying the Medicaid application process for the estimated 600,000 Texas children who currently are not served by the Medicaid program and providing continuous coverage under Senate Bill 43 by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, passed both Houses of the Texas Legislature today (Sunday).

Current face-to-face application process and recertification requirement for children under 19 years of age are eliminated, and the bill ensures that Texas Medicaid eligibility verification procedures will be no more difficult than those of the Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

SB 43 was recommended unanimously by the Senate Interim Committee of Human Services in 2000. Another interim committee chaired by Senator Zaffirini first recommended Medicaid simplification unanimously in 1994.

"The bill simplifies the procedures for certification and recertification for children's Medicaid," Sen. Zaffirini said. "Since authoring this bill, my intent has been clear--to deliver the same ease of enrollment found in CHIP for the children of Texas in need of health care. We have far too many children that are without health insurance in Texas due to the existing lack of coordination between programs and the difficult enrollment process."

"The number of uninsured children will be reduced under SB 43," Sen. Zaffirini added. "The bill serves to prevent future health problems in children by investing in their well-being today. It shouldn't be a partisan issue to ensure children get the care they need to stay healthy."

Rep. Patricia Gray, D-Galveston, is SB 43's sponsor in the House of Representatives. SB 43 co-sponsors include Sens. Gonzalo Barrientos, D-Austin; David Bernsen, D-Beaumont; Mario Gallegos Jr., D-Galena Park; Chris Harris, R-Arlington; Jon Lindsay, R-Houston; Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville; Frank Madla, D-San Antonio; Mike Moncrief, D-Fort Worth; Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso; Carlos Truan, D-Corpus Christi; and Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio.

-30-