News Release from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2007
Contact: Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121

Senator Zaffirini, The Arc of Texas Prioritize Reducing Health and Human Services Waiting Lists

Austin, TX -- As Senate and House appropriations conferees prepare to reconcile the $153 billion state budget, Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, and the Arc of Texas today (Thursday) released details about Texans in each Senate and House district currently on waiting lists for community-based Medicaid waiver program services. As vice chair of Senate Finance, Senator Zaffirini prioritizes reducing community-based Medicaid waiver program waiting lists. As an appropriations conferee, she will continue to work to increase funding to provide the maximum reduction of waiting lists.

"I appreciate greatly the hard work of the Arc of Texas in compiling information that allows each Senate and House member to see precisely how many of their constituents are waiting to receive care," Senator Zaffirini said. "The appropriations conferees must focus on allocating the maximum funds available to reduce the waiting lists, and this information will assist greatly by underscoring the significance of this issue."

Currently more than 90,000 Texans are on waiting lists for community-based, home services and care. The Senate version of the state budget includes $107.1 million to reduce these waiting lists. $75 million also is included in the Senate version's Article XI "wish list." The Senate's $107.1 million potentially would bring approximately 8,000 persons into Medicaid.

Senate Finance Committee members named by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst to the appropriations conference committee are Senators Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, chair; Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock; John Whitmire, D-Houston; Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands; and Zaffirini. More than 14,000 persons waiting for community-based care reside in their districts.

House Appropriations Committee members named by Speaker Tom Craddick to the appropriations conference committee are Representatives Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, chair; Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City; Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown; Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham; and Sylvester Turner, D-Houston. More than 3,700 persons waiting for community-based care reside in their districts.

"My strong preference is to secure $893 million to eliminate waiting lists for all health and human services programs," Senator Zaffirini said. "The reality is that we don't have the votes to do that. Alternatively, we should do everything in our power to adopt a 10-year plan to eliminate waiting lists. This would be a $260 million investment in better access to health care. As the conferees prepare to negotiate the final version of the budget, it is my hope that legislators prioritize the needs of the many persons who reside in their Senate and House districts who are waiting to receive community-based health programs."

ATTACHMENTS: Arc of Texas' data detailing persons on community-based Medicaid waiver program waiting lists per district: Senate (28 KB, PDF) and House (68 KB, PDF).

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