AUSTIN -- State Representative Ryan Guillen said he would continue to fight for restoration of $123 million in funding for the local health services in his four-county district that were cut by the recent GOP-backed appropriations bill passed April 16.
Guillen said he will also fight for education funding, which was also cut. Although education receives the most money in the proposed budget, it is facing general revenue cuts of approximately 8.3 percent under the House budget bill. Public schools will receive 7.7 percent less for the next biennium while higher education funding is expected to decrease by 9.9 percent.
Guillen pointed out that if the same cuts were made only in health care spending in each of the 150 House districts in Texas, the total effect would be a budget cut of $18.4 billion, far more than the $10 billion that is needed to balance the state budget this year. Each House district has about the same 140,000 population.
"Some might argue that health care cuts are being made evenly, but plainly the effect disproportionately and more severely impacts health care in the poorest areas of the state than in the wealthier parts of Texas," Guillen explained.
"As it was passed, the budget calls for significant cuts to services, including the CHIP insurance program offered to about 275,000 needy Texas children. CHIP funding cuts include a drop in spending of $4.7 million in Starr County, $14.2 million in Webb County, $809,000 in Zapata County and $794,000 in Duval County.
Chip Insurance Program
County Amount Cut Children Cut
Duval $794,000 259
Starr $4.7 Million 1,519
Webb $14.3 Million 4,641
Zapata $809,000 264
TOTALS $21 Million 6,683
"The sad part of this is that by cutting $7 million in state funds in our district for this program, Texas lost $14 million in matching federal funds to make up the total $21 million loss," he noted.
"These cuts are a double blow to our area because they will have significant impact on the ability of families to provide needed health care as well as impact health care facilities in our area by cutting the amount of revenue they will receive over the next two years," he said.
Guillen also explained that the millions of dollars in reduced spending on health care, education and other areas, will mean fewer jobs, lower salaries and less spending with local retailers, impacting the entire area significantly.
"Fewer health care jobs mean fewer salaries, and that means less being spent for groceries, car repairs, retail shopping and other areas. As a result, businesses will see a drop in income and will be forced to reduce their own spending, including payrolls," he said.
Frail, Elderly, In-Home and Family Support programs in District 31 were cut a total $54.5 million: The breakdown by county includes: Duval-$2 million; Starr-$20.1 million; Webb-$27.2 million; and Zapata-$2.3 million.
These cuts are projected to end jobs for an estimated 1,000 Department of Health and Human Services employees being fired across the state, many of them in south Texas where these programs face the biggest cuts.
The 5 percent reduction in payments by Health and Human Services, Department of Human Services and the Department of Health means $ 8.4 million less in state funds for District 31. When federal matching funds are counted, the loss totals $21 million in the four-county area.
Cuts in the prescription benefit for Parents in Extreme Poverty will reduce spending at area pharmacies by about $6.8 million over the next two years.
Area doctors and clinics face the loss of $6 million in services for pregnant women, and $9.2 million for Adult Benefits and Medically Needy services.
"Many of those affected will now have to accept less medical care and face more medical problems because of these cuts. Those who do get treatment and cannot pay will further strain the budgets of local county governments and taxpayers as well as and the hospitals, clinics and doctors who treat them," Guillen noted.
The Texas Department of Health estimates that 13,000 residents of the district will receive cuts or no benefits in their medical services. Another 4,129 residents living in extreme poverty will lose their prescription benefits, so even if they do receive medical treatment to determine their health problems, they will not be able to afford the medicine they need.
Other statewide budget cuts that will affect our district include:
• Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse which lost $9 million for prevention programs, $5 million for intervention programs and $10 million for treatment programs.
• Cancer Council which lost $1.4 million.
• Texas Education Agency which lost $280,000 in the school foundation program, $250,000 for school textbooks, and $300,000 for other TEA programs.
Guillen said he hopes that a more reasonable bill will be passed in the Senate and that when House and Senate conference members meet to strike a compromise between the two versions of the budget, it will restore many of the programs.
Currently, a draft version of the Senate's spending plan would allow the Children's Health Insurance Program to provide reduced services to the same people eligible now. Under the Senate version CHIP would continue to service families who earn up to 200 percent of the federal poverty limit. Families that earn too much would have scaled-down benefits, children would have to renew every six months instead of the current 12 months and they would have to wait three months before they can begin receiving coverage.
The Senate bill would also keep open a state school for mentally retarded children and a state hospital for the mentally ill that would be closed in the House's plan; and restores $150 million for some services for the disabled.
For more information contact:
Communications Director Robert McVey
Southern District Office: