Come January 2013, the Texas legislature will begin maneuvers to ultimately decide whether to accept an expansion of Medicaid, at effectively 1/20th of its actual cost. Said another way, if Texas declines, then citizens of Texas will be effectively paying for all the other states’ Medicaid expansions — with all of the Texas federal income tax dollars its resident citizens pay. [Texas has no state level income tax, BTW — and its health care system is consistently ranked among the bottom five in the nation. For a family of three to qualify for the draconian version of medical aid imposed by Texas, the family must make less than $189 per month. Of course this is going on in Florida and elsewhere in deep red states, too — but Texas is a very large, and broken, system for health care delivery — so it will remain my central example.]
Promisingly, here are bits of two of this morning’s local papers’ coverage and opinion pieces — one on the legislators’ views, inside Texas — the other on the plight of Texans’ without any other medical options:
. . . .But noticeably absent in support of the governor’s defiance of the federal government were leaders of the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature.
If anything, House Speaker Joe Straus offered only lukewarm support for the governor, telling reporters the Legislature will have lots to say about all of this when it is back in session.
“There are a lot of stakeholders we’d need to hear from before we could make a decision on that,” Straus said. . . .
. . . .Gov. Rick Perry’s move to reject the Medicaid expansion and state-based health care exchanges will leave more than 1.2 million previously uninsured low-income Texans without health care coverage. It will also cost Texas an estimated $164 billion in federal aid. . . .
Texas already has the most draconian Medicaid requirements in the nation: to qualify, a family of three must earn no more than $188 per month. Under the new health care law, Medicaid coverage would be expanded to those earning 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which would mean health care for an additional 1.2 million Texans.
According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, such a life-saving expansion would cost Texas a mere 3 percent more than it is paying today. Washington would cover the rest. . . .
The good news is that the Texas legislature is likely wiser than its governor — and more vulnerable to complaints from voters without health care insurance of any kind in the state — one quarter of all adults, and more than a million children.
Children. I am sure Gov. Perry’s mother would be proud. Sheesh. [It is also well-established that people in Texas without insurance end up going to hospital emergency rooms, thus costing all other Texans far more, per visit than their respective conditions would otherwise warrant. All so that Rick Perry can defy our 44th President — and stamp his feet, like a toy dictator. Nice. Very nice.]