Refusing to expand Medicaid and accept federal dollars has cost Texas billions and forced low-income Texans to seek healthcare in the emergency room or not at all. But there may be change on the horizon.
BOR reported in August that Texas Republicans are warming to the idea of Medicaid expansion, or at the very least, a “Texas way” to cover the uninsured, low-income residents who are denied Medicaid benefits but don’t qualify for subsidized insurance under Obamacare. And now, according to the Houston Chronicle, Greg Abbott may be considering a state-specific Medicaid solution as well.
Abbott met with legislators in Houston last week and, wrote the Chronicle, “asked for more information about a compromise recently struck by the Republican governor of Utah and the federal government that could pave the way for that heavily conservative state to expand Medicaid through the president’s signature health care law.”
Utah Governor Gary Herbert recently unveiled a plan to address the state’s Medicaid coverage gap. Healthy Utah would provide financial assistance for insurance premiums and co-pays using some of the money alotted to them by Obamacare. Several county judges have petitioned the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to create a state-specific plan for Texas’ Medicaid gap, although no such plan has been proposed.
Rep. Carol Alvarado, who attended the meeting with Abbott, said that Abbott’s questions about the Utah plan indicated that “he’s not shutting the door on it.”
If Texas expanded Medicaid, it would mean that Texas counties could spend less tax money on ER visits for uninsured residents and, more importantly, Texans would not be forced to go into debt simply in order to visit the doctor or get a flu shot. Hopefully Abbott and other Republicans will prioritize sensible, compassionate, and cost-saving solutions to the Medicaid gap during the next legislative session.