How desperate are they in the joint committees to pass something, anything on HB2 and HB3 to the floor of those chambers for a vote? Desperate enough to revive a bad idea from 2001 which is opposed by Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and Governor Perry.
The measure in 2001 would have imposed a monthly $5 a bed fee on nursing homes. The current measure allows the Health and Human Services Commission to develop the fee based on a formula to be paid monthly.
The nursing home industry calls it a "quality assurance fee." For those patients covered by Medicaid — about 70 percent of those in nursing homes — the federal government would pay the fee to the state. The state would then give the money to nursing homes as higher reimbursement rates for care to cover financial losses due to increased operating costs.
Ogden said the fee would provide about $1 billion for nursing homes in Texas over the next two years. The measure has been pushed by House budget writers who have not wanted to increase general taxes to pay for increased reimbursement rates at nursing homes.
For patients not covered by Medicaid, the fee would become part of their basic monthly nursing home bill without being itemized. Additionally, the nursing home would not receive any reimbursement from the state based on the fees from private payors. During the 2001 debate, opponents rapidly tagged the bill with the moniker of the "granny tax."
"It's a more onerous tax now," said Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt, saying the formula would charge nursing home patients almost a third more than the 2001 legislation. "That bill would in effect put a tax on nursing home patients who would get no improvement in care."
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he also opposes the nursing home fee.
"I'm against any tax which specifically targets the elderly and the frail," Dewhurst said.
Oh, and they're also talking about raising license plate fees. But don't worry, that's not a "tax", so Governor Perry can remain a hero to the Wall Street Journal.
You almost feel sorry for these guys. But then you remember it's their own lack of a coherent ideology on how to pay for desired government services that got them into this fix, and the feeling dissipates. And poor David Dewhurst, stuck herding cats while the clock ticks.
Meanwhile, Governor Rip Van Perry takes a little more not so friendly fire for his "leadership" on this issue.
Tina Peyton of Dallas, representing Texas FreedomWorks, said she hopes negotiators will reach a tax plan that does not cut property taxes by overburdening businesses.
Peyton said she appreciates the leadership of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, but wishes Gov. Rick Perry would “inject himself” more into the tax debate.
Visiting with reporters Wednesday, Perry declined to identify tax ideas that he favors or opposes.
Peyton said Thursday: “It’s time for him to show up.”