Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says Texas could design its own “uniquely Texan” Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, a healthcare leader in the Texas House, agrees. Gov. Rick Perry says it would cost too much. Should Texas try to expand Medicaid or not?I believe in limited government, but Texas can’t impose it unilaterally. The Feds will be taking Texans’ tax money (or borrowing money Texans will be on the hook for) and sending it to other states that accepted Medicaid expansion, and then Texans will have to pay again in state and local taxes to pay for health care for the poor with no federal help. Also, those with below-poverty incomes will get no federal subsidies for health insurance because they were intended to be covered by expanded Medicaid.No matter how wasteful Medicaid is, that scenario will increase Texans’ total outlays. The obsession Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott have with defying the national government is causing them to cut off our nose to spite our face. Yes, expand. Even if Medicaid shouldn’t exist, it does exist, and we should take the money. — George Michael Sherry, Fort WorthI believe Medicaid doesn’t need to be expanded by this state.Medicaid has never helped those who need it the most, and it was Democrats who never did anything when they were controlling things in Austin when they adopted Medicaid. Medicaid needs to be a federal program, not a state function. — James Mitchell Parry, ArlingtonThe Texas Medical Association has policy that supports first fixing, then expanding Medicaid, and therefore we strongly supported the Zerwas bill.We support a Texas solution to the Medicaid issue. — Steve Brotherton M.D., Fort Worth President, Texas Medical Association
All Points each Monday features reader responses to a question posed by the Editorial Board. With each week’s responses comes the next week’s question. All Points responses are not counted toward the monthly limit of one letter to the editor from each writer. Readers are welcome to send their own ideas for All Points topics to Editorial Director Mike Norman, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Excerpt from Aug. 8 speech in San Antonio by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:
“Medicaid expansion would reduce the burden of uncompensated care by billions of dollars nationwide — care that right now is paid for mostly by your local property taxes.
“It would inject significant resources into your hospitals and your local economy — nearly $100 billion in federal funds to cover newly eligible adults over the next decade…
“And that’s in addition to 1.5 million Texans who would finally be able to enjoy the daily security of reliable health coverage…
But if Texas doesn’t expand its Medicaid program, a lot of your neighbors could fall through the cracks. And in the state with highest rate of uninsured citizens in the nation, a failure to act could be devastating.
“All those families making anywhere between about $2,800 and $23,300 a year — that’s 12 percent to 99 percent of the federal poverty level — would be left in the dark with no support, and no source of affordable health coverage.
“So expanding Medicaid isn’t just the right thing to do from a health standpoint or a fiscal responsibility standpoint. It’s also the right thing to do for all those Texas families who are one illness or injury away from losing everything they’ve worked so hard for.”
Gov. Rick Perry’s statement on Aug. 8:
“Today, Secretary Sebelius is back in Texas to again explain the increasingly-convoluted, and increasingly-delayed, implementation of the federal exchange system.
“With due respect, the secretary and our president are missing the point: It’s not that Americans don’t understand Obamacare, it’s that we understand it all too well.
“In Texas, we’ve been fighting Obamacare from the beginning, refusing to expand a broken Medicaid system and declining to set up a state health insurance exchange.
“We took these steps to minimize the damage Obamacare will cause to our economy and state budget, although we’re all too aware Obamacare will still cause our state immense budgetary challenges in the years ahead, just like it will to families and small businesses across our country.”