Texas Facing Huge Increase in Medicaid Spending

Published February 15, 2012

Texas legislators may need to add $15 billion to $17 billion in general revenue to offset wild growth of Medicaid, according to Tom Suehs, executive commissioner of the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Suehs announced this to the Texas Hospital Association administrators on Feb. 1.

Legislators in the last session decided not to fully fund Medicaid in order to pass a legally required balanced budget, Suehs told hospital administrators. The bill, he says, is coming due.

Suehs told the Hospital Association conference he has played Medicaid doomsayer with the Legislature before.

“I basically said something to the effect, ‘I don’t see how the Legislature’s going to get out of this session without some form of [additional] revenue.’ I got in trouble for that,” Suehs said. “And I’m going to say the same thing today. I think I have a little bit more data with me today.”

In its own doomsday prediction last year, the Texas Public Policy Foundation said program growth alone would eventually outstrip the state’s ability to pay for it. The expansion of public health care through the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—aka Obamacare—would add an estimated $31.2 billion to $38.6 billion to the overall growth in Medicaid of $112 billion between 2014 and 2023.

Make that overall growth of $127 billion to $129 billion in Medicaid with Suehs’s adjustment.

Mark Lisheron ([email protected]) reports for TexasWatchdog.org.