AUSTIN, Texas -- Imagine taking a sick child to the doctor and learning he or she has lost health care coverage. For Texans on Medicaid, it's a common story. Records show thousands of kids are removed from Medicaid each month due to red tape, which is why some state lawmakers are calling for a change in the renewal process.
- Many Texas children lose Medicaid coverage unexpectedly
- Lawmakers working to provide continuous coverage for a year
- Could be voted on in committee Thursday
The People's Community Clinic in Austin serves about 17,000 people a year, and CEO Regina Rogoff says one-third of them are children.
"We're talking really about the poorest of the poor here," Rogoff saud,
She says it's not uncommon for parents to be suddenly notified that their child has been kicked off Medicaid.
"Some parents will decide that if they're not eligible, if they don't have that Medicaid card, that they really can't bring their child in for care," said Rogoff.
So, these families leave the clinic without getting the care they need for their children.
It's a problem Democratic state Rep. Philip Cortez, D-San Antonio, says is often due to the multiple required income checks by the state. If a family's income is rising above the threshold to qualify for Medicaid, they're sent a letter to prove eligibility.
"We have a lot of bureaucratic red tape that's causing children to lose their insurance, when, you know, the majority of the time it's just paperwork that might be missed by mom and dad," Cortez said.
Cortez says missed paperwork leads to missed appointments, and that leads to missed classes for students.
"They're losing time at school because they're not feeling well," said Cortez.
Most states check qualifications once a year, so that's what Cortez is proposing: providing continuous coverage for a year.
Republican Rep. James Frank, R-Wichita Falls, the lawmaker who chairs the committee hearing this bill, worked with Cortez to find middle ground.
"That's the language he's working on, it's not just a 'you're qualified for 12 months no matter what,' it's to smooth out the income check," Frank said.
Rogoff is hoping for a change in the renewal process and a coverage grace period for children.
"Texas already has the highest number of uninsured children in the country," said Rogoff.
She believes that statistics could be lessened by giving children yearly, uninterrupted coverage.
According to the Legislative Budge Board, Cortez's bill is estimated to increase Medicaid's average monthly caseload by more than 6000. That would cost the state $5.8 million through fiscal year 2021. Meanwhile, Frank says the measure could be voted on in committee Thursday.