Texas is home to some of the nation's most vocal opponents of the Affordable Care Act. Governor Rick Perry has called it a “monstrosity” and a “stomach punch to the American economy,” while Senator Ted Cruz has been leading the charge to defund Obamacare, threatening to shut down the government if he doesn't get his way.
But it turns out that getting rid of the law is a lot more difficult than Perry and Cruz make it seem, especially here in Texas. That's because Texas has already received over $100 million in ACA grants. What's more, of the 34 grants the state has been awarded since 2010, 25 of them have already been spent or will expire this month, meaning that Texans have already started to benefit from the Affordable Care Act.
See what grants have been received–and why Rick Perry is asking for more–after the jump.On Monday, the Texas Tribune released a list of all the grants Texas has received as part of the Affordable Care Act thus far. Most have gone to state health agencies to expand existing public health services or to develop new preventative health programs. This being Texas, the largest grant was $21.3 million to expand the services of the State Abstinence Education Grant Program (which is a problematic program for reasons discussed here.) The second-highest grant was a $20.9 million to expand the services of the state's Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation Program, sorely needed in a state with maternal mortality as high as ours. Rounding out the top three grants is $20 million to institute preventative care programs for things like tobacco use, nutrition and obesity, and heart disease.
However, it seems like $100 million in public health funding hasn't been enough for Governor Perry. Though he's consistently criticized the ACA, Rick Perry is in talks with the Obama administration to receive $100 million more to expand Medicaid services for the elderly and disabled. The new program, called Community First Choice (CFC), expands community-based care for the elderly and those with disabilities.
Practically speaking, Perry's move is a good one. CFC has been praised by advocates for those with disabilities, and will help 12,000 Texans in its first year alone. But it also makes Perry a hypocrite. He's built his national image on criticizing the law, very publicly refusing to cooperate with the Obama administration to implement the largest parts of the ACA. Perry's people say that the decision to accept funding for CFC “isn't about Obamacare,” and Perry still opposes the law. It certainly becomes more difficult to believe Perry's claim that the ACA is a “monstrosity” that will destroy the economy when he chooses to accept funding from parts of the law he admits will, in fact, help people.
The ACA is already helping people in Texas, thanks to the grants that have expanded our public health services. It's a shame that Republican officials refuse to acknowledge that, even as they continue to take federal money from the law.