As the Senate prepares to vote on health care legislation the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says would take a buzzsaw to Medicaid, hospitals in Texas fear that they could lose $6.2 billion per year in extra funding for the safety net program.
Texas was not among the majority of states which expanded Medicaid under Obamacare. But it does have the largest uninsured population in America, with 16% of residents lacking health coverage. And that puts the squeeze on hospitals that have to take in uninsured sick people and give them adequate medical treatment.
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Shorn of the political ability (or will) to expand Medicaid, the deep red state struck a deal with a reluctant Obama administration in 2011 to enhance funding for safety net hospitals serving the uninsured and financing public health pilot programs for things like new local health clinics, according to U.S. News and World Report. As the publication notes, several states with high numbers of the uninsured have similar deals, but none receive nearly the level of extra federal support that Texas does.
What has patient advocates and hospital groups terrified is that its Medicaid agreement with the federal government lapses in December, setting up high-stakes negotiations with the Trump administration over an extension. Without one, many newly formed health clinics credited with lowering Texas' 20% uninsurance rate in 2013 would likely have to shut down. Hospitals with an abundance of low-income patients without coverage would feel an even bigger financial squeeze.
And that's all without even considering the possible impacts of the Senate's health care bill, which the CBO estimates would cause millions of Medicaid recipients to lose their coverage.