Not surprising, Texas Democratic and community health care organizations expressed outrage at Perry’s decision.
Among these, according to the New York Times:
The Texas Medical Association:
Twenty five percent of the state’s population lacks health insurance — 6.2 million people, including 1.2 million children — the highest rate of any state. In Houston, the state’s biggest city, 30 percent of the population is uninsured, while the rate is 34 percent to 37 percent in Brownsville and other cities near the Mexican border…
Rebecca Acuña, a spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party: “Rick Perry could’ve brought billions in federal dollars to Texas, reduced the rate of the uninsured and improved the quality of life for Texans…Rick Perry’s Texas solution is to let Texans stay ill and uninsured.”
Representatives of Texas Well and Healthy, a coalition of supporters of the federal health care law “said Texas would receive more than $70 billion in six years in Medicaid financing if the program was expanded. They said the federal government would cover 100 percent of the costs of the expansion for the first three years, and 93 percent to 95 percent in the years that followed.”
Eileen Garcia, chief executive of Texas Care for Children, a nonprofit children’s advocacy group: “Our economy would benefit from this infusion, and our stretched health care system needs the boost.”
Rick Perry, the governor of the state with the highest percentage of uninsured residents and a state that ranked last in the nation in health care services and delivery, “proudly” announced today that Texas will not expand Medicaid or establish a health insurance exchange, two major tenets of the federal health reform that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld last month, according to the Texas Tribune.
I stand proudly with the growing chorus of governors who reject the Obamacare power grab. 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.
A letter Perry wrote to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius starts as follows:
In the ObamaCare plan, the federal government sought to force the states to expand their Medicaid programs by — in the words of the Supreme Court – putting a gun to their heads. Now that the “gun to the head” has been removed, please relay this message to the President: I oppose both the expansion of Medicaid as provided in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the creation of a so-called “state” insurance exchange, because both represent brazen intrusions into the sovereignty of our state.
I stand proudly with the growing chorus of governors who reject the PPACA power grab. Thank God and our nation’s founders that we have the right to do so.
Read more of the letter here.
According to the Texas Tribune, Dan Stultz, president and CEO of the Texas Hospital Association, said that without the expansion, “many will remain uninsured, seeking care in emergency rooms, shifting costs to the privately insured and increasing uncompensated care to health care providers.”
With a strained state budget, it’s hard to imagine addressing the uninsured problem in Texas without leveraging federal funds, which will now go to other states that choose to expand their Medicaid program.
“Rick Perry’s announcement is both cruel and negligent. No person with a speck of intelligence would turn down billions in federal dollars that would be a boon to our economy and help Texans,” it said in a statement.
“But, then again, this is Rick Perry. Rick Perry could’ve brought billions in federal dollars to Texas, reduced the rate of the uninsured and improved the quality of life for Texans. Rick Perry’s Texas solution is to let Texans stay ill and uninsured. That is not a health care plan. Once again Perry is putting partisan political pandering in front of the interests of Texas.”
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that the federal health insurance overhaul was constitutional, the justices also said that states could not be punished for declining to expand Medicaid to cover more people.
As part of the health plan, the federal government said it would pay 100 percent of the cost of the expansion for the first three years, and gradually pass on some of the burden to the states, ultimately capping the states’ responsibility at 10 percent of the additional cost.
When Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is running for U.S. Senate, stated last week that he opposed the expansion, Anne Dunkelberg, associate director of the nonprofit advocacy group Center for Public Policy Priorities, said she expected an ideological pushback. But at the time, Dunkelberg maintained that a decision to not expand Medicaid would be a mistake because it would leave billions of federal dollars annually on the table.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.