Rick Perry has spent most of his current term delighting in the rejection of the Affordable Care Act wherever possible – most recently in his rejection of a Medicaid expansion that would allow Texas to draw down $100 billion in federal funds and insure 2 million more Texans. It comes at a time when Texas has the highest uninsured rate of all time, with 28.8 percent of Texans lacking coverage. And while Republican governors around the country are caving on the Medicaid expansion after realizing how much their states stand to gain, Rick Perry is doubling down.
Last week, Perry sent a letter to Texas's congressional delegation reaffirming his opposition to expanding Medicaid and asking them to fight for flexibility in how the state runs its Medicaid program. Among his requests is the flexibility to increase cost-sharing for Medicaid recipients. This means that the people eligible for Medicaid – people already below or just above the federal poverty line – would have to pay more for their co-pays and deductibles. It adds another barrier to health care for low-income Texans while Perry leaves $100 billion on the table.
Fortunately, there are reasonable Texas lawmakers. State Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) responded: “Governor Perry's letter to the Texas Congressional delegation contains Medicaid changes that he has wanted for a long time. Applying those changes to the current Medicaid program is a non-starter because they would harm children, the elderly, and the disabled. His letter is ambiguous as to whether he would consider a Medicaid Expansion with these parameters. If so, some of them are feasible, but others are unlikely to be approved.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20th) also responded: “Mr. Perry is hard-pressed to explain why the governor from the state with the most to gain is dead-set on standing in the way of Texas families having access to healthcare.”