Texas To Help Low-Income Residents Purchase Health Insurance

Armen Hareyan's picture

The Texas Health and Human Services Commissionlast week submitted a plan to the federal government that wouldredistribute Medicaid funds for safety-net hospitals to help low-incomeresidents purchase health insurance, the Dallas Morning News reports (Garrett, Dallas Morning News,12/5). Commission spokesperson Stephanie Goodman on Thursday said thestate would divert $246 million from hospitals to create the HealthOpportunity Pool, which would provide subsidies based on a slidingscale for residents to purchase insurance (Perotin, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 12/6).


Underthe program, working Texas residents ages 19 or older could apply forsubsidies to pay health insurance premiums for private oremployer-sponsored coverage. Texas HHS Commissioner Albert Hawkins saidthat about 2.1 million adults would be eligible for subsidies and thatfunding would be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis (Dallas Morning News, 12/5).

The state has about 5.5 million uninsured residents (MacLaggan, Austin American-Statesman,12/6). The program initially would target the 480,000 uninsured parentsand siblings of children enrolled in SCHIP. Having a family member inSCHIP means they would meet income requirements for the subsidy,according to the Star-Telegram (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 12/6). "We want to create a culture of insurance in our state," Hawkins said (Austin American-Statesman, 12/6).

Hawkinssaid that the state's safety-net hospitals would not lose funding underthe program because lawmakers approved $150 million in reimbursementincreases in 2008 for hospitals that treat Medicaid beneficiaries,which would be matched by $246 million in federal funding. According toHawkins, the additional federal funding could be used to fund theHealth Opportunity Pool without reducing the $1.5 billion in federalfunds hospitals receive annually for treating a disproportionate shareof uninsured, low-income patients (Dallas Morning News, 12/5).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HealthPolicy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The HenryJ. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Share this content.

If you liked this article and think it may help your friends, consider sharing or tweeting it to your followers.