Commissioner Seema Verma Offers Support To Medicaid And Medicare Recipients Affected By Harvey

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By Becky FogelSeptember 19, 2017 10:35 am

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The top official for Medicare and Medicaid was in Houston Monday to check on how beneficiaries of those programs are doing after Hurricane Harvey.

As Houston Public Media’s Al Ortiz reports, Seema Verma says the federal government is aware the recovery process will take a long time.

A dialysis clinic located near the Texas Medical Center is one of the stops Administrator Verma made in Houston. She spoke with a couple of patients impacted by Harvey.

Verma says, in the long-term, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, commonly known as CMS, will focus on health care facilities being in good condition.

“We are gonna be doing surveys and certifications, kind of working with the hospitals and the providers to make sure that the facilities that our Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries are going to are safe,” Verma said.

Because the post-Harvey recovery will be lengthy, Verma highlighted that CMS is providing waivers to beneficiaries of both programs.

“In the case of Medicare recipients, the waivers give them more flexibility about the hospitals and clinics they can go to…While for Medicaid beneficiaries, they can increase the period of time they’re eligible to be covered by the program,” Verma said.

The federal government says there are 4.7 million Texas residents enrolled in Medicaid and its version for children, known as CHIP.

A north Texas lawmaker wants to introduce a bill that would prevent the removal of monuments from state-owned land. It would bar cities from using taxpayer money to do so too.

State Rep. Pat Fallon proposed the legislation after the city of Dallas removed a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee from a public park last week.

The Frisco Republican, who is also running for a State Senate seat, spoke with the ABC station in Dallas, WFAA.

“There are two slave owners on Mount Rushmore. Is Mount Rushmore going to be dynamited?  At some point we have to draw a line in the sand,” Fallon said.

Fallon added that removing the statue was a misallocation of resources that could have been better spent on Hurricane Harvey victims.

Cities around Texas – including Houston, San Antonio, and Amarillo have either removed or are considering removing Confederate monuments from public spaces.

Houston is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a case challenging city policy extending marriage benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian public employees. The Texas Tribune reports the city of Houston filed the petition at the end of last week.

In June, The Texas Supreme Court threw out a lower court ruling that had found same-sex couples were entitled to government-subsidized benefits. The state’s highest court argued that the 2015 landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage did not fully address the right to marriage benefits.