Monday, January 2, 2012

Texas Medicaid Cuts Leave Elderly And Cancer Patients Without Care

By Alex Branchabranch @

A new state Medicaid policy could leave some elderly and low-income Texans without access to certain treatments, including crucial cancer medications, critics say. Starting today, Medicaid will no longer cover the full co-payment of patients who also qualify for Medicare, a change that would affect 333,000 people known as "dual-eligible" clients.

The change is expected to save $1.1 billion over the remainder of the two-year budget cycle, about $475 million of which will be state funding, according to state health officials. However, the Texas Medical Association and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, say the financial ramifications for physicians could force them to limit the number of dual-eligible patients they treat because the cost of service would not be adequately covered.

In particular, providers who treat cancer patients with chemotherapy medications have raised concerns that the change could make it "difficult to impossible" for patients to receive their medications, Davis wrote in a letter last week to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. "I would like to know how the Heath and Human Services Commission evaluated the anticipated impact of these reimbursement cuts," she wrote.

Stephanie Goodman, a health and human services spokeswoman, said in an e-mail response to the Star-Telegram that the state is looking into Davis' concerns and has asked the state medical association to help identify doctors or specialists disproportionately affected. The process will reveal whether "we need to make any changes or exempt certain kinds of providers or services from the new policy," she said

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