Law­mak­ers must pass fund­ing for pro­gram

Health

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - B

Good­man said the com­mis­sion had found “pock­ets of money” in its bud­get to fund the Women’s Health Pro­gram through the cur­rent fis­cal year, which will end in Au­gust. The leg­is­la­ture will have to pass fund­ing to con­tinue the pro­gram from Septem­ber on, she said.

To help fund the pro­gram, Good­man said of­fi­cials are re­duc­ing over­time costs and try­ing to im­prove ef­forts to re­cover Med­i­caid funds lost to fraud or waste­ful spend­ing.

Jonathan Mitchell of the Texas at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice ar­gued Fri­day that Se­be­lius’ move to cut fund­ing was an “abuse of dis­cre­tion.” Texas had author­ity un­der the pro­gram to set guide­lines for providers that the state felt were ap­pro­pri­ate, he said.

But Joseph Mead, an at­tor­ney from the U.S. De­part­ment of Jus­tice, said fed­eral law gave Se­be­lius dis­cre­tion to ap­prove or deny state fund­ing re­quests. Med­i­caid rules also guar­an­teed pa­tients the chance to choose their provider, Mead said.

“The state wants to have its cake and eat it too,” Mead said.

Smith did not de­tail why he de­clined to grant an in­junc­tion.

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