What Do the Governor’s Emails Say About Hospital Funding in Texas?

The Texas Tribune’s Edgar Walters talks to the Standard about the Abbott administration’s email correspondence over healthcare in Texas.

By Emily Donahue & Rhonda FanningSeptember 3, 2015 2:49 pm|

If you’ve ever wondered whether the state’s top politicians are taking note of the conversation in the media, here’s an answer.

After a guest editorial was published in the Houston Chronicle warning of a potential meltdown in the state’s healthcare safety net, Governor Greg Abbot sent an email from his personal account to a top adviser asking to “see the financials” of author Kenneth Janda’s company, Community Health Choice, a nonprofit health insurer.

Abbott went on to say in his message, “I’m told by most informed sources that most of these entities are rolling in dough.”

Soon after: Another email – this time from Abbott’s policy director – saying the broader health system that supported the nonprofit was now “on the list” of groups to monitor.

Texas Tribune journalist Edgar Walters discovered the email exchanges through a public information request to the Health and Human Services Commission.

“It’s interesting here to see that Texas leadership, despite not wanting to comply with Obamacare the federal health law, is still very interested in holding on to as much money to care for the uninsured as possible,” he says.

According to Walters, the Abbott administration opposed expanding healthcare coverage under Obamacare to roughly 1 million uninsured Texans, instead preferring to rely on uncompensated care money to pay hospitals back for performing charity care.