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Posted by on Jul 15, 2012 in Business, Economy, Education, Health, Law, Media, Politics, Society | 4 comments

Texas Health Care and ‘Gun Talk’

By now we are all very familiar with Rick Perry’s disdain for “ObamaCare” and with his “gun-to-the-head” refusal to expand Medicaid in a state that already ranks first in the nation when it comes to the rate of uninsured people and last in the nation when it comes to quality of health care.

Thus, any reasonable person would think that health care in Texas can only go in one direction and that is “get better.”

However, Perry in his amazingly arrogant and uniformed July 9 letter to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius startlingly claims, “Neither a ‘state’ exchange nor the expansion of Medicaid under this program would result in better ‘patient protection’ or in more ‘affordable care.’ They would only make Texas a mere appendage of the federal government when it comes to health care.”

In its Sunday editorial, the Editorial Board of Perry’s hometown newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, has just the right words to describe Perry’s letter but, more importantly, the right logic and rationale to reject his “gun talk” on health care.

On the letter:

Gov. Rick Perry’s letter to the Obama administration announcing that Texas will not expand Medicaid or set up a health insurance exchange was defiant. It was also all cowboy sound and fury signifying stasis. Perry’s stand may play well politically in large circles in Texas, but it leaves the hard work of mending health care to others.

I am sure the “cowboy sound and fury” refers to Perry’s ill-chosen allegorical references to guns and “gun[s] to the head” when debating a measure designed to improve health care in America — and in Texas.

I had to look up the word “stasis,” and found “a stoppage of circulation of any of the body fluids” to be a good descriptor of the the present Texas GOP body politics.

On Perry’s “proud” rejection of the Affordable Care Act “power grab” — specifically the expansion of Medicaid — the Statesman urges Texas legislators to ignore the threat of a Perry veto and expand Medicaid, although the Statesman fears the worse: it expects the Republican lawmakers who dominate the Legislature, in spite of the lure of federal money, to be “tripping over one another to prove their conservative bona fides”, and in this “new, tea party-steeped political world, passing on an estimated $13 billion a year in federal money is one righteous way to do it.”

This, even though “expanding Medicaid would reduce the number of uninsured Texans by 24 percent, according to state figures, and could give as many as 2.3 million low-income Texans health insurance by 2023” and even though …

Most Texans enrolled in Medicaid are women and children; about a quarter are elderly and disabled. Yet most Medicaid spending — 58 percent in 2010 — went toward meeting the health care needs of elderly and disabled Texans. Nursing home care contributes significantly to the cost of Medicaid. Expanding or not expanding Medicaid won’t change that fact.

As for the health care exchange,

The federal government is prepared to do what Texas won’t do. Officials with state agencies know this…they are ready to work with their federal counterparts to set up a marketplace where Texans can buy health insurance online, by phone or in person. The Affordable Care Act requires such federal-state cooperation. The practicalities of the exchange, which is required to be up and running in 2014, make it necessary.

The Statesman rightly points out that the Affordable Care Act does not provide universal coverage and it is not “an elixir that will cure everything that ails American health care.” It continues, “There is no doubt changes will be needed as the law settles into place (assuming it is allowed to settle into place), and states should press the federal government for flexibility and simpler rules. But the Affordable Care Act addresses health care reform reasonably and responsibly, and it gives states time to adjust to expanding Medicaid, while Perry’s health care alternative is nonexistent.”

The Statesman concludes, “Let millions of Texans remain uninsured, and you let Texas suffer along with them.”

Perhaps Gov. Perry will still come to his senses and put Texas and Texans ahead of his ideology — and his gun talk.

Read more here.


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