Within the hour, Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst and Speaker Craddick announced that the Frew case had been settled, subject to the approval of Judge William Wayne Justice. No details have been announced; however, I was told this afternoon, unofficially, that dentists will receive a 40% increase in reimbursement rates--up from a previous offer of 27%. Reimbursement rates are crucial to the settlement because the state has been so parsimonious toward health care providers that many have refused to treat Medicaid patients. With higher reimbursement rates, more providers will be available to provide the dental (and vision) screenings that the state is obligated to provde twice a year.
The Quorum Report quotes Leticia Van de Putte, who was involved in the negotiations, as saying that the settlement will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. That will not disrupt the session. I checked the Web Sites of both the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Center for Public Policy Priorities, but neither mentions the settlement.
I have heard only snatches here and there of how the case has been proceeding, but Warren Chisum gets a lot of credit here for putting at least $500 million into the appropriations bill for provider increases and not waiting until Judge Justice had ruled to do it. And Senate Finance chairman Ogden pressed the AG's office to get the case settled.
If you want to think about what this session is all about, it is the undoing of many of the actions taken in 2003 that have had such a deletorious effect on state government, from the call centers that Accenture messed up to the cuts in CHIP and Medicaid eligibility to the cuts in provider rates, to the highway bill that nobody paid attention to until it was too late, to tuition deregulation that was pushed through by arm-twisting. And many more. Are we all growing up?
[Update: The Quorum Report says that reimbursement requests do not have to be raised higher than 25%. Maybe my source was confused. Maybe I was confused. Harvey seems to be plugged in on this, so I'll defer to him.]
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