Commissioners postpone vote on capping Sendero Health funding

Outside the Travis County commissioners court Tuesday morning, advocates for keeping Sendero Health plans rallied to persuade commissioners to make what they believe would be the right move.

"We ask the commissioners court to delay the hearing on the budget today, to allow Central Health to hear from the public and if possible, modify their budget request," said Fred Lewis, attorney and advocate.

That is exactly what they did. Commissioners postponed a vote on their new budget, until Central Health sets up a new meeting to hear from the public. Sendero operates under the umbrella of Central Health, and provides healthcare to lower income families. Under the proposed new budget, Central Health would have capped funding, ending Sendero plans.

"Central Health has not held public hearings on this matter. There are 24,000 people insured who will be affected. When you're a governmental entity designed to serve the poor, you have to listen to the community and you have to be forthcoming with your records and documents,” said Lewis.

Inside the commissioners court chamber, Central Health officials presented their budget plan, and there was some discussion on the dais but no official vote. Commissioner Margaret Gomez weighed heavily on reconsidering the proposal as is, commenting on the thousands who use Sendero plans.

"These have been very serious cases of illnesses that people have and so, that's what makes this thing even harder,” said Gomez, commenting on the need for affordable healthcare.

"Poor people need healthcare, healthcare is a human right,” said Brandon Reed, who uses Central Health for his healthcare needs.

The Central Health board will call another meeting and the public will be allowed to sign up to comment during citizen communication.