Texas panel backs Medicaid waiver but not expansion

A Texas legislative committee is urging the state to renew a special Medicaid waiver that reimburses hospitals that care for the uninsured in lieu of ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion, according to a report.

The state Senate Committee on Health and Human Services declined to recommend widening Medicaid eligibility under the federal healthcare law but did not rule out the possibility of an alternative path to expanding coverage.

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That approach was famously charted in Arkansas, where officials received permission from the Obama administration to use Medicaid expansion dollars to provide qualified individuals with private health insurance.

The Texas report, released Monday, arrives against the backdrop of persistent opposition to the Medicaid expansion in the state.

Still, some experts believe this stance raises the possibility of a showdown with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2016 when the waiver commended by the panel comes up for renewal.

HHS Secretary Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mary Mathews BurwellWhy Trump will win the wall fight Price was a disaster for HHS — Time for an administrator, not an ideologue Overnight Healthcare: GOP chairman to introduce pre-existing condition bill MORE has made the Medicaid expansion a priority for her tenure, and some believe her team will play hardball with the Texas government — offering a deal on the expansion in exchange for approval of the waiver.

In the 58-page committee report, panelists said expanding Medicaid would be "irresponsible to Texas taxpayers" and would "not deliver the increased access to care promised by expansion supporters."

"Texas should seek increased federal flexibility to operate our Medicaid program," the report stated.

The committee also recommended that low-income people receiving benefits under welfare reform should undergo drug tests.