‘The Texas Legislature had a real chance to make a huge difference’: Johnson criticizes Patrick’s handling of House Bill 3871


In the wake of the Biden administration pulling a waiver to expand Medicaid coverage among the poor in Texas and the state’s failure to enact legislation, State Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Farmers Branch) said an opportunity was missed.

House Bill (HB) 3871 was designed to assist people living near or at the poverty level with health coverage as part of the state’s “Live Well Texas” program, but never came to a vote and died in committee.

“The Texas Legislature had a real chance to make a huge difference this session by passing HB3871 aka Live Well Texas,” Johnson posted on Facebook. “Instead, Dan Patrick chose to behave like a child and deny coverage to one million plus Texans in order to ram through a highly discriminatory social agenda.”

Patrick is lieutenant governor of Texas and a Republican.

A report in the Texas Tribune said that last month federal health officials under Biden withdrew an extension to what is called the 1115 waiver agreement. The agreement under the control of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid provides federal funding for health care for Texans without insurance.

An extension of the program, which is up for review every couple years, was granted in the last days of Former President Donald Trump’s presidency and would have continued hospital reimbursements until the year 2030 – but the fund was allowed to expire.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, also a Republican, called the move a cheap political ploy and sued the Biden administration on May 14. Paxton said the Biden administration was attempting to force Texas to expand medical coverage for low-income residents under the Affordable Care Act or Obama Care as it was known.    

Paxton said forcing Texas officials to renegotiate the extension, worth $30 billion in medical services through 2030, would destabilize state funding Texas provides through the waiver.

“This would be a disaster for our state, and yet President Biden seems intent on thrusting his bloated model of government on everyone — including Texas,” Paxton said in a statement quoted in the Texas Tribune.

The expiration will not stop federal funding, which will amount to $3.87 billion for 2021 and 2022, for services for the uninsured including mental health.

According to the report, Texas has the country’s highest rate of uninsured residents and is one of only 12 states that refused to expand Medicaid coverage eligibility.

Critics contended the lawsuit is another example that Texas Republicans have little interest in health care for working Texans or the poor.

The status of HB 3871 may be viewed at legiscan.com.

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