Health Care Money Issued

8-24-04 - AUSTIN (AP) The Legislative Budget Board has approved 591 million dollars to be used for health and human services programs for the poor. It means the state is eligible for 860 million dollars in federal funds for a total of 1.5 billion in new healthcare spending.

About 300 million dollars will be used to cut in half a shortfall in the Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. Another chunk of the money will be used to restore Medicaid funding for pregnant women and personal attendant aid for the disabled and elderly.

The board's approval follows a similar move Governor Rick Perry made last week.

Health care advocates, however, say the board could have allocated more money for the programs.

Last year, lawmakers facing a nearly ten billion dollar budget shortfall cut all areas of state government, including CHIP, a federal-state program that offers low-cost insurance to children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but can't afford private coverage.