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MISSION — A major change, effective March 1, in how Texas provides Medicaid to an estimated 400,000 residents in deep South Texas, including the Rio Grande Valley, will was reviewed during a public meeting recently.

The gathering featured top staff representatives from the five Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) that will be administering the Medicaid program in 10 South Texas counties, according to state Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, who hosted the event.

Organizers said they expected to draw a wide spectrum of health care providers, from doctors and hospitals to therapist, pharmacists, home health and other agencies.

Muñoz said the controversial transition to managed care, approved by the Texas Legislature last spring – but which he voted against – still has many area health care providers and patients unsure or opposed to Medicaid managed care as it prepares to be launched  – known as its "rollout" – on March 1.

“The March 1 rollout of Medicaid managed care in the Valley is just around the corner and much is at stake to make sure there is a smooth transition for the program,” he said.

Officials are working to make the changeover to Medicaid managed care as smooth as possible by anticipating and resolving problems before they happen, said the legislator.

“I am well aware that our very fragile health care delivery system in South Texas could be decimated by unfair denials and otherwise stumbling into a managed care system that will create distrust and harm our community in the long run,” Muñoz said. “If we work with mutual respect and understanding, then we can collectively claim that productive change which will benefit the state, the community and the associated businesses, is over the horizon.”

To learn about how local pharmacists are reacting to the change, check out the March 2 issue of the Progress Times.

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