from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini
and State Representative Garnet Coleman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information Contact:
512/463-0121 or (512) 463-0524
June 18, 2001

Governor Perry Vetoes Omnibus Medicaid Bill
Legislation Would Have Saved $416.8 Million Over Five Years

Governor Rick Perry yesterday (Sunday, June 17) vetoed Senate Bill 1156 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini and Rep. Garnet Coleman, the omnibus Medicaid restructuring bill that the Legislative Budget Board estimates would save the state $416.8 million in general revenue over five years ($98.9 million in FY 2002-2003, $200.8 million in FY 2004-2005, and $116.9 in FY 2006). SB 1156 was passed by the Senate unanimously on April 24 and by the House via voice vote on May 22. The conference committee report that worked out the differences between the two versions was adopted by both chambers on May 27, the last day conference committee reports could be adopted.

SB 1156 was the product of the Joint Senate and House Medicaid Workgroup chaired by Sen. Zaffirini and Rep. Coleman. Members were Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock; Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan; Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston; and Rep. Kyle Janek, R-Houston.

"The workgroup was appointed early in the session to analyze the Medicaid program and make recommendations to improve budget certainty, increase accountability and reduce the rate of growth in the Medicaid program," Sen. Zaffirini said. "Most important, our priority was to improve the health of Texans."

"I am very disappointed that Governor Perry vetoed this bill, which had broad bipartisan support," Rep. Coleman said. "It would have generated tremendous efficiencies in our Medicaid program while also improving access to medical care for vulnerable populations, such as the mentally ill, people with HIV, and low-income working women."

SB 1156 would have consolidated all of acute care Medicaid under the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), authorized HHSC to pursue strategies to improve budget certainty and control costs in the Medicaid program, streamlined paperwork and administration, and required HHSC to pursue innovative demonstration projects to maximize federal funding for health care.

One of the demonstration projects relating to women's health alone was estimated to save $131 million over the next five years by drawing additional federal funds for women's health services such as breast and cervical cancer screening. This demonstration project also would have expanded access to screening services to an additional 400,000 limited-income women.

Another demonstration project in SB 1156 would have expanded access to medical care for 21,000 limited-income individuals with schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder. It was estimated to save $20 million over the next five years and to draw down additional federal funds by keeping these individuals healthy and productive members of society.

"The demonstration projects to maximize federal funds that are critical to our local counties and hospital districts," Rep. Coleman said. "By bringing in new federal money to provide care to people that are currently paid for with 100 percent local dollars, they help prevent local tax increases. Despite the veto, I hope Governor Perry will recognize the wisdom of these projects and pursue them post haste."

"Restructuring and reforming Medicaid has been a priority of the Legislature for years," Sen. Zaffirini said. "This bill represented an effort to take what we have learned and to craft a policy that not only would save money, but also would increase services to our most vulnerable Texans."

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