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Update: Health Advocates Call for Federal Health Funds to Relieve Property Tax Strain

By: 
Executive Director

The Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief continued its statewide tour this week in Houston. With the exception of Senator Carlos Uresti, members of the committee continued to oppose those who testified that accepting federal funds to provide health insurance to low-income Texans could ease the strain on local property taxpayers.

Mr. Bill Turney, retired Houston resident, urged the members to look carefully at all the other states that have expanded Medicaid, and noted that with expansion there would be $700 million dollars in immediate relief in Harris County. Reverend Dr. Randy Smith, Texas Impact Board Member, provided written testimony to the committee, in support of Medicaid expansion to bring federal funds to Texas, since indigent care in our large metropolitan cities and many of our rural counties is supported by property taxes.

Ms. Tiffany Hogue, a Harris County resident and staff member of Texas Organizing Project, testified that Medicaid expansion would bring $6 billion to Texas and encouraged members to accept the Medicaid funds since the State accepts federal funds for transportation and education. The senators indicated that they could not be sure of the amount of funding available to Texas, and reiterated their concerns about the federal debt and welcome mat effect of Medicaid expansion.

Oral and written responses to the concerns were provided, but the majority of members continued to dismiss the suggestion of accepting Medicaid funds as a way to ease the strain of rising local property tax.

For information related to the committee’s concerns and our responses, see these two documents:


Original Story: Witnesses Silenced at Property Tax Hearing in Dallas

The Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief continued its statewide tour this week in Arlington. Texas Impact was disappointed that members of the committee silenced witnesses who testified that legislators could ease the strain on local property taxpayers by accepting federal funds to provide health insurance to low-income Texans.

Dr. Tom Ripp, an ENT specialist recently retired from practice in Tarrant County, was testifying that indigent care, and resulting hospital debt, strain local property tax systems, when committee members interrupted him to dismiss the connection. Following Dr. Ripp, Ms. Lemlen Behre testified that as a property taxpayer, her property tax bill includes funds to cover indigent care that could be reduced through coverage expansion, but senators told her health care is an issue for a different committee.

Rev. Mel Caraway, a United Methodist pastor, offered to cut his testimony short after committee members instructed witnesses not to bring up potential impacts of coverage expansion on property taxes. However, senators engaged him in discussion, debating whether Jesus’ exhortation to care for “the least of these” applied to governments or only individuals. 

Watch Dr. Ripp and Ms. Behre and committee responses at https://youtu.be/LmH83Bqpfbc

Watch Rev. Caraway and committee responses at  https://youtu.be/tXWjRKFoFyw

The committee continues its hearing schedule on May 10 in Houston.