On a recent visit to Texas, HHS secretary Sibelius reportedly opened her remarks to a gathering in the state capitol with this statement:
"I'm here in Austin today to bring you $90 billion."
$90 billion, of course, is the federal share of Medicaid expansion money that's available to Texas should the state decide to adopt the Medicaid Expansion that will take effect in January 2014. While the Secretary's statement brought cheers from advocates of the expansion, Governor Rick Perry and the Texas legislature have decided against expansion anytime soon, making Texas by far the largest state - in terms of uninsured citizens - to reject this key provision of the Affordable Care Act.
Later on her visit, the Secretary also visited the newly-renamed Center of Hope, the hub of a high-performing system of care in San Antonio (Bexar County) Texas. At the Center, which was one of a handful of first-round recipients of an Innovation Grant to evaluate the impact of integrated primary care on a key segment of its service population, Sibelius was accompanied by Leon Evans, CEO of the Bexar County Center for Health Care Services, who's also a member of the Behavioral Healthcare editorial board.
In May, I visited the Center during a break at the NAATP conference and had a chance to visit with the Center's primary care staff and learn more about its new, grant funded program. The team there looks forward to completing a report, required by the terms of the Innovation Grant, that will detail the first significant data from their multi-year study sometime this fall.