May 05, 2009
Watch out for Medicaid

A wrench just got thrown into the budget reconciliation negotiations.

Forecasts that more Texans battered by the recession will qualify for free health care under the Medicaid program will require that the program receive nearly $1 billion more in state funds, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced today.

"One cloud has arisen," he said, updating reporters about House-Senate budget talks. Though the Senate inserted $750 million more of state money into the two year, $182 billion budget for Medicaid enrollment and cost growth, Dewhurst said the Legislative Budget Board now thinks the figure should be closer to $1.75 billion. The House didn't put any money into its budget for Medicaid enrollment and cost growth.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said he expects lawmakers will have to find more money for Medicaid in both the 2010-2011 budget and an emergency spending bill plugging holes in the current budget.

"There's less money today than we thought there was ... a week ago for new stuff," Ogden said.

Hard to say right now what effect this is going to have, but it sure makes that House vote to exempt more businesses from the margins tax feel like bad timing. Earlier in the session Sen. Van de Putte had questioned the amount of money set aside for Medicaid under the Frew ruling, but this appears to be separate from that. The thing to watch out for here is using the Medicaid shortfall as an excuse to gut a whole bunch of appropriations. I have a bad feeling about this. Postcards has more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 05, 2009 to Budget ballyhoo
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