Medicaid Expansion
1:35 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Update: Designer Of GOP Medicaid Expansion Plan Says Bill Is Dead

Update: (May 9, 6:45 a.m.) A group of House Democrats are outraged that the Zerwas "Texas Solution" to Medicaid will not be scheduled for a debate or vote.

Donna Howard, D-Austin, said both sides of the House are calling the move to kill the bill highly suspicious.

"There has probably been some political pressure exerted to say it’s not getting out. I can’t say specifically how it is happening, but if you poll the floor and you have 88 to 90 people or more who are supportive of this and it doesn’t happen then there is some political pressure being exerted," Howard said.

Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, said killing this bill sends one clear message about Texas.

"In the last two weeks we have expanded over a billion dollars in tax-breaks for special interests. When it comes to uninsured adults and children, they are simply not special interest enough," Turner said.

Turner says unless there is a way to resurrect the dead, neither the Zerwas bill nor any debate over Medicaid expansion will be heard this session.

Original Post (May 8, 1:35 p.m.) Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, said his "Texas Solution" may not be the answer.

His bill would ask the federal government for a block grant to design an alternative to Medicaid expansion, but it has not made it past the Calendars Committee, which means it won’t make it to the House floor.

"I’m disappointed, obviously, that we haven’t had the opportunity to debate what I think is one of the headline issues for this legislative session," Zerwas said. "Unfortunately it's also a somewhat polarizing issue and therefore people have concerns of where that goes from an election point of view."

Zerwas said his bill would have had to get on the calendar by last night in order to meet the Thursday deadline to schedule a bill for a debate - that did not happen. 

He also said there are no other bills addressing the Medicaid expansion issue.

"There is no Senate alternative," Zerwas said. "There is no Senate companion to this.  So there is not going to be a Senate bill that comes over that would allow us to have a debate about this.  Although there is a rider in the appropriations bill, we vote the appropriations bill up or down, we don't debate specifics about the bill."

Zerwas said there is still a chance that Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek can negotiate a waiver with the federal government regarding Medicaid expansion, but for now we don’t have a viable solution for the 1.5 million Texans his plan would have covered.