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Texas Hospitals Could Lose Billions Without Medicaid Waiver

Nathan Bernier/KUT
If the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services doesn't renew the Texas 1115 Medicaid transformation waiver in 2016, hospitals could lose billions in federal funding.

A waiver program that provides billions of dollars for Texas hospitals expires next year, and a panel of House lawmakers is asking state health officials if they have a Plan B. 

The 1115 Medicaid transformation waiver, among other things, gives billions in federal dollars to Texas hospitals that provide care for patients who don't have health insurance.  

In 2013, Texas spent almost $4 billion in what's called "uncompensated care" for low-income Texans.

So, State Rep. Armando Walle (D-Houston) asked state health officials what happens if the federal government doesn’t renew or extend the program.

"In terms of delivery of services, what would be the effect on working class folks that need health care?" Rep. Walle asked. 

Chris Traylor with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission replied. 

"I would call it an upheaval to our health care system if we’re unable to extend or renew the waiver system in some form," Traylor said. 

"I think upheaval would be an understatement," Walle added. 

That Medicaid waiver program expires in September of 2016. So far, Texas has accepted an expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. For now, Taylor said they don't have a Plan B if the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not renew the waiver program.

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