Texas Lawmakers Duel Over Medicaid Expansion
by: Laurie Johnson, April 1, 2013 3:04:00 pm
Against the background noise of chanting protesters, four of the most powerful political officials in Texas protested the Medicaid expansion component of the Affordable Care Act.
Gov. Rick Perry is calling on the federal government to enact reforms to the program.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says opposing Medicaid expansion is in the best interest of Texas.
"The current Medicaid system is threatening to bankrupt, not only the state of Texas, but every other state in the country."
Medicaid in Texas is a $27 billion program, the state pays about a third of the cost with the rest covered by the federal government. But Medicaid pays less to doctors than Medicare or private insurance and many physicians won't accept Medicaid patients.
Sen. John Cornyn says Medicaid is overwhelming the state and federal budgets.
"Right now about 25 cents on every dollar the federal government spends is borrowed money. We know we can't keep living like this and there's going to be consequences associated with it. So why in the world would we keep expanding this flawed system and jamming more and more people into a program where they can't find a doctor to see them."
Supporters of Medicaid expansion say Texas can't afford to pass up a deal where the state will spend $15 billion over the next ten years and be able to draw down $100 billion in federal Medicaid funds.
TEXAS STATE CAPITOL - Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz held a roundtable followed by a press conference to discuss the flexibility needed by states to enact meaningful reforms to the existing, broken Medicaid program. They were joined by Congressmen Joe Barton and Michael C. Burgess, M.D., Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek, as well as the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). Several Texas lawmakers and groups also joined in support of reforming the current Medicaid system and providing flexibility.