Texas Health and Human Services has decided cutting health care services for women and children may not be the best way to close pandemic-related state budget gaps.
In May, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen directed state agencies to submit plans for cutting their budgets by 5 percent for the 2020-21 biennium.
For Texas Health and Human Services, the impact totaled $132.7 million, with $15 million coming from client services. There was an outcry of opposition from advocacy groups and state lawmakers who felt there was a lack of transparency to the process. They warned the cuts would hurt the state’s most vulnerable and undermine efforts to support healthy moms, healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.
The feedback has prompted a change. The cuts in client services have been taken off the table, and HHS will be looking for savings elsewhere.
“Since submitting its plan in June, the agency has continued to assess potential impacts of the reductions,” the new budget document reads. “At the same time, alternative savings opportunities to offset reductions to client services were evaluated, and feedback was received from numerous legislative members and stakeholders.”
HHS cautions that the plan will evolve over time as the agency continues to assess the impacts of the reductions and identify lapses or alternative savings opportunities.
There will be a public hearing before everything is final.