Despite overwhelming cries from across the state, the Texas Senate has once again ignored all common-sense on Medicaid. Instead of taking critical dollars that Texans are already paying for under the ACA, Austin lawmakers would rather make threats to cut the existing program, unless the Obama Administration meets a plethora of demands. Here’s the story from Edgar Walters of the Texas Tribune…
Leading Texas Republicans on Monday asked the Obama administration for greater flexibility to administer Medicaid — a move that has gotten little traction in the past — while reiterating that they would not participate in an expansion of the program under the Affordable Care Act.
“Any expansion of Medicaid in Texas is simply not worth discussing,” state Sen.Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, said at a press conference.
It’s worth noting that the opposition to ACA Medicaid expansion is coming solely from Republicans in the Senate. But outside of Austin, the chorus of leaders that support Medicaid Expansion is decidedly bi-partisan. None of this, however, matters to our “fair” legislature.
The letter Dan Patrick sent to Washington is nothing more than sensational demands that weren’t even granted under a Republican President. Yet still, this is the conversation that Austin wants to have. The Houston Chronicle‘s Lisa Falkenberg has more thoughts on that “conversation”…
Far from suggesting ways Texas could expand access to health care, the letter penned by Patrick and Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, suggested only ways to cut services for those currently eligible, 96 percent of whom are children, pregnant women, the elderly and disabled.
The letter lamented Texas’ rising Medicaid case loads, without mentioning the state’s soaring population or the fact that children benefit most from the program.
“This trajectory is clearly unsustainable,” the letter says, and then accuses the Medicaid program of continuing to “crowd out” funding for other needs such as education, transportation and water. Last time I checked, it wasn’t poor people or the federal government proposing billions in tax cuts over the adequate funding of education, transportation and water.
In the letter, senators suggest doing away with provisions aimed at covering more babies and children and preventing their coverage from lapsing. It also proposes placing work requirements on able-bodied adults receiving Medicaid, making it seem like there are a large number of layabouts leaching off a government program.
In truth, those able bodies are parents who qualify for Medicaid only because their children do. They make up about 155,000 recipients in a program serving 4 million, according to Anne Dunkelberg, a policy analyst with the nonprofit Center for Public Policy Priorities. Such coverage is temporary and the income requirements are strict. A mother with two children can earn only $4,000 a year – yes, a year – to qualify for Medicaid.
“These aren’t deadbeats. These are moms,” says state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston.
As Falkenberg outlines, this letter is far from a request to the Obama Administration. It’s a ransom note. Anyone who is hopeful that the Texas legislature is looking to do the right thing by our state would be wrong. Instead, this week makes clear that Republican lawmakers wish nothing more than to endanger not only our poorest citizens, but state hospitals, and our whole healthcare system.
Let’s hope someone in Austin gets a dose of reality soon, because Texans cannot afford their ignorance much longer.
But don’t hold your breath.