We nDr. Ben Raimer, senior vice president, Health Policy & Legislative Affairsow have less than 365 days until the 84th Texas Legislative Session begins in January 2015. We hope to keep you informed over the next 10 months about the developing health and policy issues that are likely to grab center-stage during those five key months of legislative deliberation.

To be sure, there is likely to be continued focus on addressing the state’s infrastructure needs to ensure continued economic growth. That means that continued planning to ensure ample water resources, transportation services and educational opportunity for Texas’ expanding population will garner much of the political attention. And, most certainly, the future of Medicaid will be a heated topic for debate since the continued growth in the HHSC budget is demanding a larger slice of the budget pie than ever before.

Legislators (and citizens) worry that the HHSC budget will exceed what the state devotes to educational services. Expect continued emphasis on programs focused on health care cost containment, improved health care delivery efficiency and safety, as well as a demand for more pricing transparency within the insurance and health care industries.

But first, we have an election primary season to get through and the political high point of the year --- the November 2014 General Election. There will undoubtedly be a lot of drama leading up to both the primary and the general election. With Governor Perry deciding not to seek re-election as Governor, Attorney General Gregg Abbott has claimed heir to that office after waiting patiently in the wings for almost a decade. However, the race for the top job in the state has some interesting twists. State Senator Wendy Davis (D – Fort Worth) announced her candidacy riding on a wave of national support following her Senate filibuster regarding women’s health care legislation. And joining her on the ballot running for Lt. Governor will be Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D- San Antonio), a pharmacist and highly respected Hispanic legislator with an impressive record of service in the state. Longtime Lt. Governor David Dewhurst will be facing a wide array of aspiring career lawmakers who hope to replace him in what many feel is the state’s most powerful position - Lt. Governor.
Texas politics and the 2014 election promise to be as suspenseful and entertaining as most of the recent college football playoff games. Stay tuned as we follow the chapters in this thriller as it unfolds over the next 10 months.

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