from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Chance Sampson
512/463-0121
Janurary 1, 2002

Simplification of Children's Medicaid to Take Effect Jan. 1

Senate Bill 43 by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, and Representative Patricia Gray, D-Galveston, simplifying the Medicaid application process for the estimated 600,000 eligible Texas children who currently are not served by the Medicaid program and providing six-month continuous coverage, will become effective on Jan. 1.

"It's a great day for the children of Texas," Sen. Zaffirini said. "This new law not only will make health care accessible for thousands of children who already qualify for Medicaid, but also will enable Texas to reap a cumulative savings of $10 billion in 20 years. Truly, this is an investment that will preclude unnecessary higher health care costs later, will reduce the number of expensive emergency room visits and will decrease expenditures for indigent health care."

SB 43 eliminates the current face-to-face application process and recertification requirement for children under 19 years of age and ensures that Texas Medicaid eligibility verification procedures will be no more difficult than those of the Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The law requires first-time applicants appear in-person within 30 days of enrollment for a counseling session at the Texas Department of Human Services (DHS) or a visit to a health care provider in the program within 60 days to receive a health care orientation. It also requires the Department of Human Services to adopt procedures to make CHIP to Medicaid transitions smooth and to promote the Texas Health steps program.

"The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services that I chaired recommended Medicaid simplification in 1994, then again in 1996 and in 2000." Sen. Zaffirini said. "Our persistence was productive during the last legislative session as the Senate and House passed SB 43

unanimously. The news media, particularly newspapers that editorialized for simplification, and children's advocates helped bring public attention to this important issue and helped more legislators understand its importance. Its taking effect on Jan. 1 is the culmination of an effort that began almost 10 years ago."

SB 43 cosponsors include Senators 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.

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