States' Exchange Success Will Hurt Texas Republicans' Fight Against Obamacare

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States who chose to create their own health insurance exchange are faring much better at getting their residents coverage than those using the federal exchange at

So far Republican Governors and legislatures have chosen to spend their time, effort and states' tax dollars fighting the expansion of the affordable health insurance marketplace in lieu of developing alternatives or exercising discretion within their respective state exchanges.

While other states were weighing their options, calculating their eligibility numbers and devising a strategy for implementation many of Texas' U.S. Representatives, led by Ted Cruz, were busy shutting down the federal government. Despite every effort by their representatives to foil the ACA's success over 14,000 Texans have signed up for coverage. That number however pales in comparison to the states that chose to implement their own exchange, even those with much smaller populations than Texas.

See how Texas stacked up next to other states and what happened when a Texas GOP doctor and legislator sponsored the bill to create a state exchange…There are 2 million more uninsured Texans than the entire population of Kentucky, yet that state was able to sign up just as many individuals as the Lone Star State through the Kentucky Health Exchange. Connecticut, with a population of only 3.5 million was able to sign up over 11,000. Comparable state's by population like California and New York, who created their own exchange, signed up over 45,000 and 100,000 respectfully. Florida which has a smaller population than Texas, still managed to sign up almost 18,000 on the federal exchange.

Unfortunately Republicans in Texas led by Governor Perry have rejected both setting up our own state exchange and the $9 billion in federal money that would have come with Medicaid expansion. That policy leaves many Texans with only charity and the emergency room for access to care.

When Republican state representative John Zerwas, one of the few doctors in the House, sponsored a bill to set up a state exchange he was told by Perry's spokesperson that the Governor, “strongly opposes the federal healthcare reform bill and the one size fits all mandates that come along with it.” Of course anyone following the ACA rollout knows that state's that do not set up their own exchange will default to the one created by the federal government at Even with the perpetual trumpeting of anti-federal government rhetoric Perry and Abbott can't risk the perception that creating Texas' own exchange is somehow implicitly supporting the law. Ironically, concerns over the “one size fits all” model was precisely the reason Zerwas chose to sponsor such a bill saying that, “I believe this is one of the most important things we can do to protect our insurance market, by putting a Texas exchange in place.”  It doesn't take much in the way of critical thinking skills to know that by passing up the opportunity to set up our own health exchange we lose a lot of “flexibility” which is what Abbott and Perry have called for in their total rejection of the ACA.

So what would they have you do if you are left uninsured in Texas? According to one Abbott advisor the answer seems to be contact the federal government.

You can follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.


About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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