News Roundup: Ken Paxton Seeks Update On Status Of Texas’ Medicaid Waiver Request

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMay 10, 2018 2:14 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Earlier this week, the Texas Attorney General urged the federal government to free up funding for the state women’s health program.

Ken Paxton sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, seeking an update on the status of a proposed Medicaid waiver.

Stacey Pogue with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin think tank explains what a Medicaid waiver is.

“A Medicaid waiver is an ask to the federal government to get permission to spend federal Medicaid dollars in a way that you normally wouldn’t be able to,” she says.

She explains this proposed waiver would allow Texas to get federal funds it forfeited in 2012, when it banned all organizations affiliated with abortion providers. In a recent blog post, Pogue examined what could happen if the Trump administration approves Texas’ Medicaid waiver. She says the waiver’s approval wouldn’t really be noticed by Texans.

“And one is the outcome if you’re standing in the state of Texas,” Pogue says. “And in that case, unless you’re a state budget writer, you’re not going to notice. So the request in Texas isn’t to create a new program, or serve more women, or to do something innovative – it’s to take a program that is fully funded by state dollars and to replace those dollars with federal dollars.”

But if approved, the waiver’s impact could be felt across the country.

“What it changes nationally is precedent for other states to exclude providers, like Planned Parenthood or any other one they wanted to, and still get federal Medicaid dollars and that could mean a real change in how other states run family planning programs and whether women in those states get access to family planning services,” Pogue says.

Pogue points out that Planned Parenthood was the single largest provider in the state’s women’s health program in 2012. At the time it was serving 40 percent of participants with birth control, cancer screenings, and other preventative health care. Despite, Attorney General Paxton’s letter this week, the federal government has no set deadline by which they have to approve the Medicaid waiver.

Billboards are popping up in Oklahoma trying to recruit teachers to the school district in Fort Worth. Just last month, Oklahoma teachers protested classroom funding, temporarily closing schools across the state.

Fort Worth ISD placed the billboards in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman, and Stillwater. Mack Burke, a reporter at the Norman Transcript in Norman, Oklahoma, described the reaction the billboards are garnering to KUT News.

Their pitch was pretty straightforward. ‘Come to Fort Worth, Texas and make $52,000 a year.’ Some folks have balked at the gall to come advertise and kick us when we’re down so to speak. But at the same time, other see it as a natural extension of economics and supply and demand.

Oklahoma’s nine-day teacher walkout ended with educators receiving some concessions – but falling short of their stated goals.

Houston rapper Big T passed away earlier this week at the age of 52. He died at a Houston hospital on Monday.

Big T, whose name was Terence Prejean, was also known as the “Million Dollar Hook Man.” He’s best known for his soaring chorus on Lil’ Troy’s 1999 hit, “Wanna Be a Baller.”

Big T’s sister, Ann Prejean, told the Associated Press Tuesday that she and her brother were raised in a musical family.