What The End Of A Medicaid Waiver Means For Texas Health Care

A health care advocate says Texans need to tell lawmakers about the impacts of the loss of this money meant to help those who are highest risk and highest need.

By Joy DiazDecember 21, 2018 2:51 pm

The 1115 Medicaid Waiver has provided more than $30 billion in relief and preventative care for Texans over the last 10 years. This money pays for increased access to primary preventative care, chronic care management, and behavioral health care services. The waiver money has served more than 11 million people.

Lisa Kirsch is the senior policy director at Dell Medical School. Before Dell Medical, Kirsch worked for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, or HHSC. There, she oversaw the development and implementation of the 1115 health care transformation waiver.

Kirsch says since this is waiver money there is more flexibility in the services it can provide, unlike traditional Medicaid insurance. This allows the HHSC to address some of the social determinants of health.

“There’s a growing understanding that for people to be healthy things like food insecurity and housing insecurity are an important piece of that,” Kirsch says.

Now, this federal waiver program is ending and the federal government wants Texas to continue health care transformation through its regular healthcare system. Kirsch says it is Texans’ responsibility to tell their state legislators that they still need this money.

“The waiver really has brought a lot of good to communities in Texas and the best way to tell that story is for those communities to be able to articulate what this has meant to folks in their town and their city,” Kirsch says.

Written by Morgan Kuehler.