Sen. Leticia Van de Putte believes the Senate Finance Committee failed to include enough money in SB 1 to cover the state’s obligations under the settlement of the Frew v. Hawkins lawsuit, in which the state agreed two years ago to significantly improve access to Medicaid services. And she lays the blame for the failure at the feet of Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office.
Van de Putte notes that Frew plaintiff’s attorney Susan Zinn has sent two letters – one dated Jan. 27 and one dated March 16 – to the AG’s office advising it of non-compliance with a 2007 agreement, particularly with a promise to spend $150 million on “strategic initiatives” to increase participation by children in Medicaid services – primarily by increasing participation by health care providers. Zinn’s letters to the AG noted that the Legislative Budget Board’s funding recommendations for the next biennium do not comply with the court order. Van de Putte says Zinn has received no response from the state to her letters.
Further, she said, Senate budget writers were not advised of the plaintiff’s concerns. ”To my knowledge, (no one) in Finance or leadership was given those documents showing what was needed to be compliant,” she said. “There was a disconnect.”
If lawmakers fail to fully fund the settlement, “we will be in violation” of a federal court order, Van de Putte noted. “Our attorneys failed to communicate to budget writers.”