New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - March 26, 1985, New Braunfels, Texas
Health coalition wants better care for indigents
AUSTIN (AP) — A coalition of health care providers and community organizations has organized a drive to save the state money by spending more for prenatal care to indigent women and their children.
“If we fail in this Legislature we are just passing the debt on to another generation,” said Ron Anderson, head of Parkland Hospital, Dallas, and chairman of the State Board of Health.
The coalition announced Monday it would support actively four measures proposed by the Task Force on Indigent Health Care, plus a fifth bill to help the hungry and the undernourished.
“We found that pregnancies among unwed women is the most costly program in almost all hospitals in Texas,” said Helen Farabee, chairman of the task force authorized by the 1983 legislature. “That has become the No. I issue in
indigent health care.”
Mike Hudson, co-chairman of the Texas Maternal and Child Health Coalition, which includes 12 organizations, estimated the entire package cost of the five bills would be $80 million to $100 million for the next two years.
“The coalition has no specific funding recommendations,” Hudson said. “We will take the money from anywhere it comes.”
The coalition said its immediate goal was passage of the maternal and child health recommendations. One measure would provide expanded prenatal, delivery and postnatal services to indigent pregnant women and children who are not otherwise insured. Other measures would expand services to women and children in the Medicaid and the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AF DC) programs.
Gramm wants reform in defense contracts
WASHINGTON (AP) Republican Texas Sen. Phil Gramm says he is confident that his proposal to reform defense contracts will eventually become law because taxpayers outnumber “people who’ve got sweetheart deals w ith the Pentagon.”
Gramm's proposal, which he announced a news conference Monday, would also lift legislative restrictions on military base closings. He said that would allow such decisions to be made on the basis of national security and economics, not politics.
The measure will draw heavy opposition because it threatens a lot of “sacred cows," Gramm said.
"I felt it was time to give members of Congress a chance to put their vote where their mouth is.” he said Senate Armed Serv ices Committee Chairman Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz,, has proposed a list of 21 bases for closing. There are no Texas bases on the list, but Gramm said there w as no guarantee Texas bases would not be threatened with closure under deeper cuts.
“It’s clear Texas is not affected by the first 21,” Gramm said “In fact, Texas may initially gain because of transfer of functions to Texas.
“Texas counties and local taxpayers are wasting each year millions of dollars on unnecessary, expensive neonatal care and on long term treatment of birth-related disabilities,” Hudson told a news conference.
Hudson said he felt the national
Republican administration had been lax in helping states with their health problemes.
“Health care must not be a partisan political football,” he said. “Both political parties should put partisan concerns aside and commit adequate revenues to insure that
every pregnant Texas woman has access to prenatal care and safe delivery services.”
Lan Bentsen, Houston, the other coalition co-chairman, said experiences in other states shows every $1 spent on prenatal care will result in $3 to $6 saved on newborn intensive
“In Texas, short-term hospital costs of low birth weight in premature infants exceed $120 million a year,” Bentsen said.
The cost of educating handicapped children in Texas was more than $500 million in 1984, Bentsen said.
“But I’m certainly not going to sit here and say that with all of these reforms that I’ve proposed, if they become law, that they’re not going to affect Texas contractors, because they will, and that they’re not going to affect Texas bases, because they may well affect them."
Gramm’s bill, called the "Defense Efficiency and Economy Act," would also allow the Secretary of Defense to fine a contractor 25 percent of the total contract if the contractor “repeatedly submits unallowable expense claims" and allow for a fine of three times the amount of a disallowed individual claim.
The bill would also forbid contractors from billing the government for items such as entertainment, country club dues and first-class air travel.
Gramm said his bill would also allow payment of overtime on a weekly instead of a daily basis and eliminate a provisions in the law that require defense contractors to use big-city pay scales for small-town labor.
The measure, if adopted, would result in savings of between $5 billion and $10 billion in five years, Gramm said.
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