AUSTIN – The Senate approved bills
Friday aimed at balancing the state budget and reducing healthcare
costs in the state.
The first measure, SB 7 by Flower
Mound Senator Jane Nelson, would help the state achieve some of the
$3 billion in healthcare efficiency savings identified by a Senate
panel during the regular session. The bill would expand managed
care under Medicaid and implement fraud prevention, outcome-based
reimbursement models for providers, and a co-pay for non-emergency
services in the emergency room.
The Senate also passed SB 1, a bill
that uses deferrals and tax collection speedups to provide about $3
billion in new revenue, measures that are critical to balancing the
budget passed by the Legislature in the regular session. That bill
also lays out the plan for spreading out the $4 billion education
spending reduction over the next two years. SB 1 is almost
identical to the regular session's SB 1811, which died in the
Senate in the final days of the session and spurred Governor Perry
to call an immediate special session.
Perry added a new issue to the call
on Friday: reform legislation dealing with the Texas Windstorm
Insurance Association. This quasi-governmental organization is
virtually the only insurer for Texans living along the coast, and
Perry is unwilling to go through another hurricane season under the
current TWIA model. Negotiations over the issue broke down in the
waning days of the session, and Perry said then he would call
legislators back in July to deal with the issue. With the
Legislature already in town to deal with unresolved budget issues,
Perry can forgo a mid-summer special and ask lawmakers to try and
deal with the issue now.