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State Budget Bill Passes House, Heads into Final House-Senate Negotiations With a Lot at Stake for Health Care

After debating amendments on Medicaid expansion and many other issues, the Texas House passed its state budget proposal on a vote of 129 to 18 in the early morning hours on Friday. The bill now goes to a conference committee composed of five Senators and five Representatives to iron out a final bill for an up-or-down vote in the House and Senate before the Legislature adjourns at the end of May.

There are a number of key issues for the conference committee to address. For health care advocates, three of the most important issues are:

  • The Rainy Day Fund: The House plan uses a small portion of the Fund to avoid cuts to health care and other investments. The Senate plan does not. We urge the conference committee to use the Fund.

  • Medicaid funding: Both the House and the Senate underfund Medicaid, setting up the 2019 Legislature to have to write a big check to continue the program through the rest of the budget cycle. We urge the conference committee to provide additional funding to Medicaid and pledge not to impose new cuts to benefits, eligibility, or provider pay.

  • Therapies for kids with disabilities: The House plan takes a significant step towards reversing the recent Medicaid reimbursement rate cuts for services for children with disabilities. In fact, the House added more funding during the debate. The Senate, on the other hand, has taken no steps to address the issue. We urge the conference committee to restore the therapy funding.

For further analysis and details, we recommend the recent budget blog posts by Texas Impact and CPPP and CPPP's blog on Medicaid funding in the budget.