On Monday Texas politicians redrew battlelines over the proposed Medicaid expansion in Texas. Governor Perry, and U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz defied the will of Texans and ignored good fiscal sense by essentially making a public pledge to keep Texas' status as having the highest uninsured population in the United States. Democrats including Congressman Lloyd Doggett, Congressman Joaquin Castro, Mayor Julian Castro and several state legislators held their own press conference with budget experts, health professionals, local elected officials, and Medicaid recipients to make the case that Texas' citizens and the state budget would greatly benefit from the federal funds.
The offer on the table from the federal government is worth more than $100 billion to Texas over 10 years, with the state's portion incrementally increasing before being capped at 10%.
The math is simple and missing this opportunity adds up to more local taxes. If the state opts out of contributing to indigent care, the burden will merely be shifted to counties, charities and families already facing economic hardship. This case was made strongly by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, saying it was, “unfair to local tax payers”. Perry said Texas needed the, “flexibility to care for our own in a manner that makes sense both effectively and financially.”, however as state Rep. Chris Turner (D-Arlington) said, “after 12 years of Governor Perry's health care policies, we have the highest rate of uninsured in the nation.” Perry wants a block grant so he can take the money but still keep control over implementation and benefits. Judging by his call to drug test TANF recipients I'd hate to see what eligibility would look like under that regime.
Congressman Doggett called Governor's request for a block grant “blockheaded” and Congressman Castro said Perry needed “to lose the swagger and get serious.” Both men cited Republican governors who have put partisan politics aside to help the uninsured in their state and asked the Governor to reconsider sitting down with the Obama Administration to workout a deal.
One Texas, the PAC founded by Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio), produced a great video of Republican Governors who have signed on the Medicaid expansion for the “moral” reason. During the press conference, TMF addressed the Governor, stating that “'no', is not a public policy,” and suggested that the he should accept Medicaid in the spirit of Easter and Jesus' teachings, “feeding the hungry, healing the sick.” He urged state leaders to act now and not to put off the most important business of the day saying, “manana” was the busiest day in the legislature.
Ted Cruz hoisted his Don't Tread On Me flag in full defiance of compromise saying he was proud of Texas as Republicans in other states were “giving in.” The House budget debate will begin Thursday, but the House Republican Caucus, surely under a great deal of pressure from the Governor, has already voted to reject proposed Medicaid expansion, but left the possibility of negotiations with the federal government open.
Check out more pictures from the Perry press conference protesters via Progress Texas on Facebook.
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