‘We Hear You': Lawmakers Promise to Fix Texas' Broken Medicaid Managed-care System

AUSTIN – Lawmakers from both parties stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the Capitol steps Tuesday to promise major fixes to the state's broken health care system for sick and disabled Texans, including children.Before a few dozen families, all caring for at least one child with immense medical needs, lawmakers said what the parents had been hoping to hear for more than two years."We hear you. We're rolling up our sleeves," said Plano Rep. Jeff Leach, a far-right Republican and notable addition to the strange political bedfellows working to fix problems with the state's privatized Medicaid system known as managed care.Texas pays about $22 billion a year to giant health companies and a few nonprofits who act as middle men, paying doctors and approving claims, and making billions in the process. Many of the parents in attendance had tried to convince lawmakers the last time they convened in Austin, two years ago, that this system was hurting their kids. They were being denied life-sustaining treatments and drugs by managed care companies, they testified, over and over. Yet, lawmakers did nothing. But now lawmakers in the House and Senate have filed more than a dozen bills to increase patient protections and reign in companies that deny medically needed care or exaggerate how many doctors are available to patients. And the authors of those bills say they're optimistic. Last summer, a Dallas Morning News investigation exposed widespread problems in that program, including finding that some companies were skimping on medically needed care to increase profits -- sometimes with dire consequences.   Continue reading...

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