Tag Archives: Texas Obamacare

While Opposing Medicaid Expansion, Texas Secretly BEGS for Federal Help

It’s an old but often true saying that “everything’s bigger in Texas”.  But if that’s the case, shouldn’t the shame felt by two-faced Republican leaders be out-sized as well?

For the latest example, let’s take the foolish games that the Texas Governor and Republican-dominated Legislature continue to play around Medicaid Expansion.  For 5 years now, Texas has shown total opposition to the possibility of expanding the federal program under the Affordable Care Act.  Leaders in Austin have done this even as their citizens continue to suffer under a lesser standard of care than other states, all based on the principle that Texas “doesn’t want any help” from the Federal Government.

Yep… that’s what the mostly Republican lawmakers say.  But according to Edgar Walters of the Texas Tribune, what they do is an entirely different story…

State health officials confirmed Tuesday they have asked the Obama administration to keep a 15-month lifeline of federal Medicaid money flowing into Texas to help hospitals treat uninsured patients.

That money would offer temporary relief to health care providers who face losing the funds — some $3.1 billion annually — over state leaders’ refusal to provide government-subsidized health coverage to low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health law.

Federal officials previously signaled they would stop footing the bill for at least some of Texas’ costs for “uncompensated care” — the burden on hospitals when patients can’t pay for their visits. Under the Affordable Care Act, Texas was encouraged to expand its Medicaid program to cover nearly 1 million additional adults living in poverty — a move that would have given more poor patients a means to pay for care. The state’s Republican leadership has vehemently opposed that option, criticizing Medicaid as an inefficient government program.

In a letter dated April 7 and first released to The Texas Tribune on Tuesday, Texas health officials asked the federal government to continue the funding for uncompensated care for one year and to pony up an unspecified prorated amount for an additional three months. It is unclear if the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversee those federal funds, will approve the state’s request.

Yes you read that correctly.  While the lawmakers hurl criticism at Obama and practice politically-convenient ideology, they leave state health officials to grovel for funding and hang Texas hospitals out into an uncertain future.

Baseless opposition without realistic solutions?  Maybe it’s time for some Austin lawmakers to grow up.

Wait… How Much Is Texas Losing By NOT Expanding Healthcare?

This is something that I’ve written on previously, but now some professionals have given more comprehensive numbers to prove what we know to be true. Texas is losing out big time by not taking any form of the ACA Medicaid expansion.  Here’s more on this shocker from the Dallas Morning News

We’ve heard the arguments before. Advocates of expanding Medicaid, with the federal government picking up at least 90 percent of the tab, say it’s the humanitarian thing to do — and makes good sense, as the new billions of federal Medicaid matching money will generate new jobs. Opponents such as Gov. Rick Perry and state GOP leaders say there’s no guarantee the feds can make good on their promise down the road, given Washington’s big budget deficits. They also cite fears that once an entitlement’s offered, it’ll be hard to yank back. That could imperil state finances, warn the critics, who also fret about fostering more government dependency.

What’s new is someone has put a price tag on what taxpayers in the 23 holdout states, such as Texas, will pay to expand Medicaid in 27 other states and the District of Columbia.

The bottom line: Between 2013 and 2022, federal taxpayers in Texas will cough up $36.2 billion for the expansion’s cost elsewhere.That’s in addition to forgoing $65.6 billion of new federal Medicaid matching money, which would’ve generated $34.3 billion in additional Medicaid reimbursements for Texas hospitals, according to Urban Institute researchers.

So basically… by not expanding Medicaid or creating an alternative option, the state of Texas will lose over $136 billion dollars.

That’s worth repeating in a bigger font.

By not expanding Medicaid or creating an alternative option, the state of Texas will lose over $136 billion dollars.  

Sorry for yelling, but this blog can’t even describe how simply surreal the Texas TEApublican attitude is about Obamacare.  But even beyond the loss of money, Texans will suffer a greater loss by not improving our healthcare system… the loss of lives.  By refusing expansion, TEApublicans will voluntarily cripple hospitals all across the state once the ACA funding cuts kick in. Many hospitals may be forced to close down entirely.  That’s fewer hospitals to serve a rapidly growing state… growth which is propelled predominantly by low wage, no benefits employment.  Under these circumstances, Not expanding Medicaid means more Texans are going to die.

Despite all of these mounting factors, Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and a bevy of other TEApublicans have vowed to never, ever, ever take the ACA expansion.  It’s an ill-fated stance, but they have stuck with it anyway throughout this election season.  Eventually, Texans must take them at their word that they do not have the state’s best interests at heart here.

Meanwhile if Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte are elected, they have every intention of finding a way to expand healthcare in the state of Texas.   They will not leave our state’s hard-earned tax dollars to be given away to people in other states.  Now that we finally have a monster price tag with this issue, let’s hope that it gains more traction during the remaining parts of election season.

Here’s the main point… This is 2014, and Obamacare is real. No longer do we have to banter about some “boogeyman bill” that’s going to kidnap your  doctor like a thief in the night. Texas doesn’t have to wonder what would happen if we expand Medicaid… We can see for ourselves by just crossing the state line. People in Arkansas are living the reality of healthcare expansion right now, and the system, while not perfect, is working pretty darn good. So it’s time for the TEApublicans to make a choice. Either put Texas first now, or get out of the way. This November, I’m hoping for the latter.