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The trickle down effect, Perry-style

Here’s an example of how that “no tax increase” pledge from the last legislative session works in real life, from Lubbock.

Cuts in Medicaid and a state insurance program for children as well as decreases in private employee insurance are contributing to a health care “crisis” in Texas, University Medical Center president James Courtney said Monday.

UMC is expected to lose $17.8 million throughout the current two-year state budget cycle, mostly because of Medicaid cuts, the Lubbock County Hospital Board heard Monday. Cost control measures and a tax increase have helped UMC absorb the blow.

Of the $8.9 million UMC expects to lose a year, the biggest hits are $3.5 million lost because of more stringent Medicaid eligibility and $2.7 million in Medicaid funds to pay for resident physicians, also known as graduate medical education (GME).

Dr. Richard Homan, dean of Texas Tech School of Medicine, said he plans to testify before the state House Appropria tions Committee today with officials from the University of Texas and Texas A&M in an effort to restore GME funds.

Cuts to the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the loss of private insurance among patients are placing great strains on public teaching hospitals in Texas, Court ney said.

“I believe these cuts disproportionately are affecting our types of organizations,” Court ney said. “The health care system in the state of Texas is in a state of crisis.”

Many employers are dropping commercial insurance for their employees because of high costs, UMC officials said.

The loss of insurance appears to be driving more unpaid visits to UMC’s emergency room.

So far in 2004, the percentage of nonpaying emergency room visits at UMC is 33.2 percent, up from 32 percent last year. The percentage of nonpaying inpatient and out patient services so far in 2004 are 19.2, up from 17.5 percent in 2003.

“We’re seeing people drop their coverage,” said David Allison, UMC’s chief executive officer. “We’re seeing people, just in general, not being covered. We’re seeing that decrease in our financial mix.”

So because the state refused to fund CHIP, federal dollars that would have helped to cover public hospital costs were left on the table. It’s up to the cities and counties to foot the bill for those who would have been covered before but aren’t covered now. Add in the people who’ve lost private health insurance, and you can see why Perry’s proposed property tax appraisal cap is such an anathema in municipal government. Just another success story from the 78th Lege.

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