After federal Medicaid officials rescinded the 1115 waiver forcing Texas to find new options for drawing down billions in federal funding for healthcare, the Texas House may have the answer in HB 3871—a Medicaid expansion bill by Rep. Julie Johnson.
Johnson’s bill would create a new program called Live Well Texas that would expand the state’s Medicaid program to include Texans who are making less than 138% of the federal poverty level which for a single person is less than $18,000. The bill is modeled after the “Healthy Indiana Plan”, which requires a federal 1115 waiver to adopt policies not normally allowed under federal Medicaid law.
The program in conjunction with the American Rescue Plan’s promise of a temporary 5% increased federal match for states who choose to expand Medicaid means that Texas would receive a 67% match rate for non-expansion Medicaid as well as the 90% match for expansion under the ACA.
Currently, Texans have some of the strictest income eligibility limits in the nation. Texans can largely only qualify for Medicaid if they are below the 17% of the federal poverty income limit and are either pregnant, taking care of a child, have a disability or taking care of someone with a disability, or are over the age of 65.
The bill has bipartisan support and now has 76 legislators who have signed on, enough votes to pass out of the Texas House.
Reaching the threshold to pass the Texas House came Wednesday when Republican Reps. Raney and Stephenson joined other Republican co-authors and joint authors Larson, Huberty, Allison, Kacal, Bailes, Clardy, and Lambert as well as all 67 House Democrats to support the bill.
The Texas House is expected to debate a budget amendment Thursday to request an 1115 Medicaid waiver for drawing down the funds to cover a Medicaid expansion program like Live Well Texas.