Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Texas Tribune Talks to Kyle Janek, MD, New Health and Human Services Commissioner

HHSC Commissioner Kyle Janek, MD, right, with moderator
Evan Smith at a Texas Tribune TribLive conversation
This morning, Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner (HHSC) Kyle Janek, MD, discussed with The Texas Tribune editor Evan Smith his ideas on how the state could treat more Medicaid and uninsured patients, the new Women’s Health Program, and the looming budget shortfall. The event was sponsored by the Texas Medical Association’s Healthy Vision 2020.

Dr. Janek told a wide-ranging audience of Capitol observers the best way to care for Texas’ uninsured and Medicaid (low-income) patients is to shore up funding for the state’ medical schools. The schools could then pull down Medicaid matching dollars from the federal government. Dr. Janek believes medical schools can be an important part of the state’s safety net to treat Medicaid patients. “The institutions already have the resources needed to treat a large population of patients — doctors, nurses, labs, etc. We need to treat them as managed care plans.”

When asked about the Women’s Health Program, which was supposed to launch tomorrow, he said HHSC is ready. The state is working to build an adequate network of physicians and other health care providers to take care of almost 150,000 women enrolled in the program. When challenged whether the state is prepared to fill the patient gap created by Planned Parenthood leaving the program, Dr. Janek said, “They should have enough doctors to make up for Planned Parenthood’s patient load.”

The big news was the new number Dr. Janek cited for the state’s budget shortfall. The state needs to come up with $4.7 billion to cover the Medicaid caseload when the legislature gets back in town January 2013.

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