New program to help disabled is good, even if part of Obamacare

Posted Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Texas is preparing an application to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for participation in a program that will provide assistance for the disabled and elderly in their homes or communities, Politico reported this week.

The state is seeking about $100 million through the Community First Choice program, an optional plan available under the Affordable Care Act, to assist about 12,000 intellectually and developmentally disabled Texans with an alternative to nursing homes or other institutions, Politico said.

But wait. You probably thought Gov. Rick Perry had said Texas would have nothing to do with “Obamacare,” as the ACA is commonly known, and that he was against expanding Medicaid in this state. You’re right, he did say that, and the governor might argue that he’s not really buying into the new health law, but just taking advantage of an opportunity to get federal money without embracing a law that forces people to buy health insurance.

Whether Community First Choice is a major part of Obamacare, a small appendage to the act or a mere byproduct of the law, it is a worthy program that will benefit a lot of Texans and thousands more nationwide.

The governor and other state leaders should not make this a political football to be kicked around between Perry’s ambition to run for president and the president’s desire to have a national health system implemented to insure as many Americans as possible.

Perry must keep in mind that federal dollars also belong to Texans. When it comes to healthcare and this particular plan to help the disabled, he should be as aggressive about going after federal money as he was in seeking stimulus funds to supplement the state budget and demanding additional disaster relief for West, ravaged by a fertilizer plant explosion.

There is no need to play a game of semantics or try to disguise Community First Choice as being a program unrelated to Obamacare. It is what it is, and the Legislature was right in accepting the plan during the last session with a goal of implementing it next month.

The process is in motion. All Perry has to do now is get out of the way.

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