Perry's Latest Appointment Jeopardizes Medicaid in Texas

Former state Sen. Kyle Janek has been appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to head the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. As the head of the commission, he will oversee five health agencies that have an overall budget of 30 billion dollars. The commission administers health care programs in Texas such as Medicaid, CHIP, food stamps, and family violence services.

Kyle Janek’s previous record on health care is troublesome, however. As a senator in the Texas legislature, Kyle Janek’s top two contributors were both PACs relating to healthcare, one of them being the Texas Medical Association PAC and the other being the Greater Houston Anesthesiology PAC (Kyle Janek also works as an anesthesiologist). As a lobbyist in 2011, Kyle Janek was on the payroll of the following organizations and companies:

  • The Health Care Compact Alliance - an alliance headed by Leo Linbeck III (the CEO and chairman of Linbeck Corporation, a Houston-based construction company, and a member of a powerful family that donates often to libertarian causes). This 501c(4) focuses on advocating for the interstate health care compact, which would strip Texas, among other states, of federal regulations on health care. Texas would receive block grants with no federal rules attached; the state government could do what it pleases. In the worst case scenario, Texas could remove Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP and other federal programs entirely. The interstate health care compact was seen by Republicans as a way to get out of the Affordable Care Act, no matter what the Supreme Court ruling turned out to be. Kyle Janek, along with top lobbyist Mike Toomey, led the lobbying effort on behalf of the Health Care Compact Alliance. The health care compact was included in SB7, passed last year.
  • Citizen Leader Alliance - the conservative 501(c)4 that Leo Linbeck III founded; its president, Jamie Story, was a featured speaker at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank and ALEC’s arm in Texas.
  • Eisai Inc. - one of the top 25 pharmaceutical companies in the United States. 

Janek, who lobbied to get rid of federal programs such as CHIP and Medicaid, is now at the head of the commission that is responsible for the administration of federal programs. As a former state senator and lobbyist who is now back in government, Janek personifies the revolving door in politics. His connections to ALEC, TPPF, and the Health Care Compact Alliance suggests that he will be no friend to Texas’ most vulnerable populations.