AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A coalition of people who depend on Medicaid for their health care and jobs called on the Texas Legislature Tuesday to fully fund the program when they meet next year.
People with disabilities, parents with ill children, the elderly poor and the health care providers who work with them held a pre-Thanksgiving meeting to demonstrate who depends on Medicaid and how important the program is for them.
"I am thankful for Medicaid for all those millions of older seniors and disabled who no longer have adequate health care," said Charlotte Flynn, a 93-year-old former chair of the Grey Panthers. "In Texas we are not very gracious with giving funding for those in need."
Lawmakers cut Medicaid programs last year and underfunded the program by $4.8 billion. When the Legislature meets next year, they will have until March to make up the budget deficit or the health care program for 3.6 million Texans will shut down.
Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that provides health care to the poor, disabled and the neediest elderly Americans. The service provides care 55 percent of newborns in Texas and 2.5 million poor children overall. But the 738,000 seniors and the disabled in the program make up 58 percent of Medicaid spending.
Gov. Rick Perry has asked the federal government to allow Texas to completely overhaul the program, warning that the growing costs could bankrupt the state. Federal rules guarantee that the needy receive a minimum level of benefits across the country.