After months of increasing pressure, Gov. Rick Perry on Monday approved spending $561 million to restore some of the cuts made last year in health care for the poor.
The money will reduce by half the estimated shortfall for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. It will also restore Medicaid benefits to some pregnant women and maintain personal-attendant aid for disabled and elderly Texans.
Some of the money will maintain current reimbursement rates for doctors and other health care workers who provide services to Medicaid clients. And $25 million will be used to draw down additional federal funds to help hospitals that serve high numbers of indigent patients.
"This does not restore the 147,000 children who have lost CHIP coverage since Sept. 1, nor are dental and vision benefits to be restored to the CHIP package," Best said.
Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said it's about time Perry acted to restore some of the health care cuts made last year.
"This is a victory for the people of the state of Texas and a victory for those who advocated these cuts never occur and then advocated for their restoration," said Coleman.
Coleman said he'd like to see Perry go further and use $1.3 billion in available revenue to restore other health cuts.
"What this shows is that this was bad public policy to begin with," Coleman said.
"They've really cheated these families out of needed services for the last year."