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Biden rule threatens Tarrant residents’ Medicaid coverage. Can Granger help stop it? | Opinion

Rural hospitals such as Eastland Memorial are in danger from Medicaid funding cuts.
Rural hospitals such as Eastland Memorial are in danger from Medicaid funding cuts.

At a time when Texas is scrambling to get 50,000 Tarrant County residents back on Medicaid, unelected bureaucrats have defied President Joe Biden’s past wishes by issuing a new federal mandate that will make Texans’ healthcare even less accessible and out of reach.

Fortunately, Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, is uniquely positioned to fight back and protect our Medicaid coverage from this bureaucratic overreach.

Seeking to reduce Medicaid program spending, the Biden administration released a one-size-fits-all edict telling Texas and other states how they can (and cannot) fund their Medicaid systems. The administration may believe it’s being responsible, but it’s not. It’s being reckless and bureaucratic in the worst way.

We know this because when the previous administration proposed a nearly identical rule, which it called the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation, or MFAR, Texas healthcare leaders made it clear that the added federal red tape would lead to reduced coverage and increased taxes.

The Texas Hospital Association said that MFAR “would force state and local governments to increase taxes, further erode the state’s control of the Medicaid program and devastate the state’s health care infrastructure.” Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, And Attorney General Ken Paxton agreed, as did Granger and every other member of the Texas congressional delegation. All 36 Texas Democrats and Republicans wrote to the administration urging them to pull MFAR back, and many of them even went so far as to push a bill that would have made it more difficult for the federal healthcare agency to move MFAR forward.

President Donald Trump listened to Texas’ concerns. He made the agency withdraw the rule, prompting the state’s top three leaders to say that the decision saved Texas’ rural hospitals and protected its health care providers. Oddly, however, the Biden administration finds itself trying to resurrect this policy even though Biden used this terrible proposed ruling as political ammunition against Trump on the 2020 campaign trail.

If MFAR 2.0 moves forward now, Tarrant County will find itself in an even worse position than if the original had moved forward three years ago. There are far more inflationary pressures and roadblocks to healthcare access today. That is why it is so critical that our officials act as aggressively to block this one-sized-fits-all mandate today as they did before.

Paxton did his part, suing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (the agency responsible for issuing MFAR 2.0) in April, charging that it was “threaten[ing] the integrity of Texas’s Medicaid program and the nearly five million citizens that it serves.” A federal judge has issued an injunction blocking MFAR 2.0. However, despite this order, the agency continues to search for new ways to go around the courts and is even incorporating MFAR into yet another new federal rule.

That’s why Granger could play a leading role in fighting back. She chairs the influential House Appropriations Committee and could use the power of the purse to finally put MFAR to rest. It’s the only way to ensure that the 50,000 Tarrant County residents who are at risk of losing their Medicaid coverage remain safe and protected in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Granger was right when she said that “the way to improve access and the affordability of health care is not through burdensome mandates on states, employers, and individuals.” It’s through embracing innovation, collaboration and states’ rights.

Let’s hope she and her colleagues can stop these rogue bureaucrats before it’s too late. Too many of our friends and neighbors are counting on it.

Former state Rep. Bill Zedler represented Tarrant County’s District 96 in the Texas House for eight years. He is a retired medical consultant.
Bill Zedler
Bill Zedler
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