Bringing Home One Billion Dollars for Indigent and Uninsured Health Care

By Senator Borris Miles

This session I brought more healthcare dollars to our community and ensured that the new University of Houston medical school serves the community where it will be located. The governor signed into law my legislation that would allow Harris County hospitals to draw down one billion dollars in federal Medicaid reimbursement funds to go towards the cost of uncompensated care to help care for the indigent and uninsured in our community.

Houston is home to the world’s largest medical center, where we have some of the best facilities and healthcare professionals who specialize in a wide variety of areas. Many of those hospitals in the Texas Medical Center are also safety-net hospitals that work around the clock, providing primary care services to many low-income and uninsured Houstonians.

Since 2013, Texas hospitals in 20 counties have successfully created a Local Provider Participation Fund to generate parts of the non-federal share of Medicaid payments. I sponsored the bill to allow Harris County to have the option to create this fund which will be funded by a fee on private hospitals. The dollars raised by this fee will enable local safety-net hospitals to draw down the additional billion federal dollars for uncompensated care. Without this program, this money would have gone elsewhere.

The new University of Houston medical school provides an additional opportunity to help our communities. Houston is home to several large medically underserved communities which have the highest numbers of residents with poor health in our city. That is why I fought to ensure that the new medical school focuses on primary healthcare and has opened up a safety-net clinic to serve the community around the UH campus. Bridging the health care gap will improve the health of the underserved and a healthier community creates a stronger community.

This new billion-dollar reimbursement to our hospitals and the creation of UH’s new medical school and safety-net clinic are huge healthcare wins for Houston and our community.

Photo credit: workplace.org