U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice approved a settlement on July 9, 2007, that will improve access to medical care for more than 2 million low-income children in Texas. The agreement, which was drafted by state and plaintiff's attorneys, ends a 14 year case that stemmed from a class action suit filed against the state in 1993. The original class action suit claimed that the state did not provide adequate care for children enrolled in Medicare.
State lawmakers have already agreed to more than $700 million necessary to satisfy the terms of the settlement. Most notably, rate reimbursements for doctors and dentists will increase up to 50% to dentists and varying rates for physicians based on the treatment provided.This measure will increase preventative checkups and primary care with an anticipated decrease in need for hospital care and fewer cases of severe dental disease (preventable) that require general anesthesia in an operating room.
The settlement requires the state to hire more Medicaid caseworkers, improve transportation options to help parents get to medical appointments and implement family outreach initiatives to inform parents what services and checkups are available for their children. Efficiency of toll- free hotlines and availability of prescription drugs will also be addressed. Most of the changes will take effect September 1.
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