Rep. Howard Cheers HHSC Flexibility on Medicaid Rate Reductions

Still Sees Need for Better Data on Rates, Utilization, and Impact of Cuts When Moving Forward

AUSTIN – Today, State Representative Donna Howard applauded statements from HHSC Executive Commissioner Chris Traylor, which indicated that the Commission would not feel bound by a certain level of savings when pursuing Medicaid rate reductions for acute therapy services, and that any new reduction proposal would preserve access to care. Traylor’s statements came in a response to a September 30 letter from Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Sen. Jane Nelson, which asserted that language in the rider directing the cuts provided the flexibility necessary to ensure that “eligible children all over this state can continue to receive these important services.”

Rep. Howard released the following statement:

“I am glad to see that Lt. Governor Patrick and Chairwoman Nelson have relented and agreed that HHSC, when making any Medicaid rate reductions to acute therapy services, should prioritize the preservation of access to care rather than meeting a specific amount of savings.

“After months of advocating for a more reasonable approach to addressing the issue of supposed overpayments for these services, and pointing out that the proposed reductions would severely limit access for 60,000 disabled children, this comes as welcome news.

“As the Commission pushes ahead with any new reduction proposals, however, I would stress the need for good data to back up whatever cuts are implemented. We should have a full understanding of the rates currently being paid to providers, and an appropriate comparison to those paid in other states.

“I would also urge the Commission to better determine the reasons for increased utilization of these services, and whether it is the result of any malfeasance or simply a case of more eligible individuals getting the care they so desperately need.

“Lastly, the state should conduct a detailed study on what impact to access any new rate reductions will have, and publicly release the methodology used to arrive at their findings.

“This latest news from HHSC is a blessing, but we must still proceed with caution, and with the best interests of these vulnerable children in mind.”

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