FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 03/12/2015
TEXAS HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE APPROVES PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN RATE INCREASE TO $460 MILLION IN GENERAL REVENUE
AUSTIN, TX—This morning, the Texas House Appropriations Committee, of which State Representative Oscar Longoria (La Joya) is a member, approved funding to the Medicaid-to-Medicare Parity Payments in the base bill in the amount of $460 million in General Revenue. The appropriation was approved upon the recommendation of the Sub-Committee on Article II - Health and Human Services (HHSC) of which Representative Longoria also serves on.
The recent federal funding to increase primary care physician payments expired December 31, 2014. Without the higher payments, many organizations feared that the physician Medicaid participation would again enter free fall.
"Physicians support Medicaid and want to participate," said Dr. Martin Garza a practicing pediatrician from Edinburg and member of the Texas Medical Association. "Yet, as owners of small businesses, facing ever more costly and demanding federal and state regulatory burdens, many cannot afford to stay in a program that pays less than half their costs."
According to the Texas Medical Association's biennial physician survey, in 2000 67 percent of Texas physicians accepted all new Medicaid patients. Today, that number is 34 percent. The good news is that increasing physician Medicaid payments actually reverses the decline in participation. From 2012 to 2014, physician participation in Medicaid rose 5 points, a jump attributable to the temporary two-year primary care physician rate increase paid for with federal funds. Similarly, in 2008, physician participation also increased after Texas lawmakers invested new monies to improve the physician Medicaid network.
Representative Oscar Longoria issued the following statement:
“Having met with and discussed this issue with many doctors from my district, as well as doctors from across Texas, I, along with my colleagues in the sub-committee, have come to understand the inadequacy of Medicaid payments and the need to pay better to expand access to care.
We need to invest the necessary resources to improve appropriate and timely access to medical services for Medicaid patients, not only by maintaining higher payments for primary care physicians, but also by ensuring competitive physician payment rates for subspecialists and CHIP.
Medicaid and CHIP together serve more than 4 million Texans, people we all know or encounter every day, including hard working, low-income parents and their children as well as people with disabilities and seniors. Without the programs, the vast majority of Medicaid and CHIP patients would be uninsured, thereby depriving them of access to affordable preventive, primary and specialty care."
Representative Oscar Longoria proudly represents House District 35, which encompasses both Hidalgo and Cameron Counties and includes the cities/towns of: La Joya, Sullivan City, Peñitas, Alton, Edinburg, Monte Alto, Edcouch, La Villa, Mercedes, Weslaco, Santa Rosa, Primera, Palm Valley, Combes, Harlingen, and La Feria.