TAC staff continues to monitor the 5% reduction plan laid out by state leadership that directs state agencies and institutions of higher education to identify savings to offset state revenue losses due to the pandemic and declining oil prices. Reduction plans will undoubtedly impact counties in multiple areas. For example, proposed budget cuts by two state agencies will affect funding for indigent health care reimbursement and delay 9-1-1 equipment replacement and upgrades for regional 9-1-1 service providers.
Phaseout of State Funding for Indigent Health Care Reimbursement. One of the items proposed for reduction by the Health and Human Services Commission involves phasing out funding for the Indigent Health Care Reimbursement Program. Current state funding for this program is $0.9 million for the biennium. Funding provides reimbursement to the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston for uncompensated health care provided to indigent patients from all Texas counties. Although this does not represent a significant amount of funding, the program funds uncompensated health care that otherwise would be the financial responsibility of counties.
Deferral of 9-1-1 Equipment Replacement. The Commission on State Emergency Communications’ plan includes $7.7 million in reductions to be achieved by deferring 9-1-1 equipment replacement, deferring a Texas Poison Center Network capital project and reducing travel by commission staff. Deferrals in replacing or upgrading 9-1-1 equipment affect service and safety, especially as new digital communications technologies that cannot access the existing 9-1-1 network become more widely used by the public.
For information on this article and the state budget process, email Zelma Smith.