Texas Gov. Rick Perry on June 14 signed a state Medicaid reform bill that establishes a premium-assistance fund to help some 200,000 uninsured, working Medicaid-ineligible Texans to buy private insurance.
Perry, who was joined by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt at the signing, called the bill a historic step toward a better, more accessible healthcare system.
As is, the Lone Star States Medicaid program costs $39.5 billion, accounting for 26% of its biennial budget. But the governor said that provisions in the bill to promote consumer choice, reward healthy lifestyles and set a cost-sharing base for nonurgent use of emergency rooms would help rein in spending. About 5 million Texans currently have no health insurance coverage.
The bill also requires the states health services commission to develop a pilot program to provide incentives to encourage use of electronic health records by primary-care physicians serving Medicaid patients. -- by Matthew DoBias