Rick Perry's refusal to expand Medicaid in Texas is costly in many ways. It will cost businesses $400 million in tax penalties. It's costing over one million Texans health insurance coverage who are stuck in the Medicaid coverage gap–with incomes too high for Medicaid but too low for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. And it is costing the state of Texas over $9 billion in federal funds to help insure low-income individuals.
According to a new study, one of the institutions hardest hit by this loss of funds will be federally-funded community health centers. These health centers are designed to provide comprehensive, high-quality primary care to underserved and vulnerable populations. And thanks to Rick Perry, federally-funded community health centers in Texas will lose out on over $98 million of federal funds, denying over 160,000 Texans vital health coverage.
This will have both short-term and long-term consequences for community health centers in Texas, as they lose access to vital resources that would have helped them stay afloat and eventually expand their services.
Read more about the consequences for thousands of low-income Texans after the jump.Texas is one of several southern states who refused Medicaid expansion, affecting their community health centers. A new study from researchers at George Washington University found that nationwide, over a million community health center patients will remain uninsured because of states skipping Medicaid expansion. Community health centers in these states will lose over $560 million in federal funds.
This is a huge loss for both patients and community health centers themselves. For patients, gaining Medicaid coverage would give them “access to specialists along with prescription drugs, diagnostic tests and hospital care for little or no out-of-pocket costs.” For health centers, expanding Medicaid will lead to more revenues, as Medicaid pays centers more than the small sliding-scale fees they charge uninsured individuals. According to the report, states that expanded Medicaid will receive “potential revenues of $2.1 billion in 2014 for the centers,” which they can use to pay doctors and nurses and eventually expand their services.
Unfortunately for Texas, Rick Perry's actions mean we will receive none of that. Patients will continue to struggle to afford important health services, and community health centers won't get the extra revenues that could help them expand services for vulnerable populations across the state. In fact, the report found that failing to expand Medicaid could actually exacerbate existing problems. As more uninsured people seek out care from community health centers, this will put even more strain on their already taxed services.
Rick Perry's refusal to expand Medicaid is pushing Texas's health infrastructure to its breaking point. Once again, it is going to be poor and vulnerable Texans who will have to pay the price for Perry's political delusions of grandeur.