A bipartisan press conference was held by Senator Bryan Hughes and Senator Chuy Hinojosa along with Bishop James Dixon, Father Mark Hamlett, Senator John Whitmire, Senator Borris Miles, Senator Nathan Johnson, Senator Charles Perry, and Senator Donna Campbell. The press conference was regarding the Biden Administration and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) strategy to pull $8.6 billion dollars of funding from Texas Healthcare in attempt to continue the expansion of Medicaid. A video archive of the press conference can be found here.
This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight the various topics taken up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the discussions but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer.
Senator Bryan Hughes
- Began the press conference referring to CMS February 17th, 2023 Bulletin. This document proposed taking $8.6 billion from the state budget that was meant to be allocated to healthcare
- Noted that $300 million would be allocated to his district alone
- This state budget towards healthcare would benefit all rural, suburban, and urban hospitals
- This money is in jeopardy because of “unelected bureaucrats.” He called for the federal government to keep their word
Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa
- Explained that the federal government is holding Texas healthcare hostage by trying to do away with the Local Provider Participation Fund (LPPF)
- LPPF’s are accounts that local units of government deposit mandatory payments from hospitals to use as an intergovernmental transfer to Texas Health and Human Services
- Said by getting rid of this, there will be a fiscal impact of nearly $500 million in his district
- Explained that this plan from the federal government and CMS will negatively impact all Texans, specifically those that are low-income
- Asked CMS to pull back and continue negotiation
Bishop James Dixon, NAACP and the Community of Faith Church
- Added that the actions taken by the federal government and CMS are not only unconstitutional but also immoral
- Stated that this will mean the closing of hospitals, specifically small and midsized
- Asked the federal government and CMS to “please not play politics with people’s lives”
Father Mark Hamlett, Texas Catholic Conference
- Added on that their call for change is common sense
- Explained how Texas intaking large amounts of immigration and then underserving hospitals is not common sense
- Ended with saying that if they pull resources and increase demand, then there will be no hospitals
Senator John Whitmire
- Offered sentiment to wanting Medicaid to be spread but fundamentally disagreed with the way CMS and the Biden Administration are going about it
- Stated that if CMS and the Biden Administration are planning to cut resources to spread Medicaid, then this is not the answer
Senator Borris Miles
- Passed a Local Provider Participation Fund bill that raised $2 billion in healthcare without expense to the taxpayers
- Asked to continue the fight for LPPF’s in Texas
Senator Nathan Johnson
- In support of the expansion of Medicaid but is against the federal government’s strategy to take away LPPF’s to incentive the expansion
- A better approach would be to work with the federal government
Senator Charles Perry
- Without LPPF’s rural hospitals will have problems existing
- Healthcare funding in the state needs to stay the same
- Is the fix of this in the courts?
- Senator Bryan Hughes – The (Biden) administration could stop this, that would be the quickest most efficient way, but there is pending litigation and we expect to win that, Texas has won before and will again. But we don’t want to wait for the courts the administration should stop this in its tracks
- Are there any legislative measures that can solve this in the long term?
- Senator Bryan Hughes – Many federal legislators have come out agreeing with our position and that the administration is wrong but that would take federal legislation to fix this. We don’t have a legislative fix at this level
- Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa – Keep in mind that this has already happened
- Senator Bryan Hughes – It has happened before when 10,000 people objected including leaders in Texas and across the country left and right. And now this is happening again without input in a short process and that’s why we are here, and it needs to be stopped
- Bishop James Dickson – This bipartisan coalition cannot be underestimated. We have the faith community represented, social justice and activism represented here, along with a bipartisan political coalition. We have the potential to speak to the people that need it the most. We need to encourage people to write letters to the administration and CMS to ask them not to cut $8 billion from healthcare because it will cost human life. This press conference is just the beginning of a bipartisan effort.