Former Governor Rick Perry declared he would not accept federally expanded Medicaid, made possible by Obamacare, i.e. the Affordable Care Act, under any circumstances. He said to do such would be a fool's errand. But now, after a year of Obamacare the data shows it is Rick Perry and the state of Texas that are the biggest fools of them all.
But not everyone in this vast state is as big an ideological fool as our former Governor and his tea party colleagues. As it turns out, many of us, including politicians, medical doctors and other professionals in the medical fields know Texas is in dire need of federally expanded Medicaid. Texas has the highest number of uninsured residents. Harris (Houston) County Judge Ed Emmett had previously suggested that the state take it but call it something else, just as Kentucky did.
Houston and Harris County property taxpayers have an enormous stake in the successful creation of such a program. Each year more than $500 million in county property taxes goes to fund health care expenses. This burden is dumped on local taxpayers by the refusal of the state to create a fair and equitable system.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, who is on the very front lines in this battle, supports the expansion of Medicaid, noting that “it doesn’t make any sense for the state not to take federal dollars.” Emmett is a mainstream Republican whose views should be heeded in Austin.
Well, Rick Perry and right wing Republicans did not heed Judge Emmett's advice. Ideology always trumps logic and data with this crew. If people die early because they can't afford health insurance it's their fault for being too lazy or for cavorting with the devil.
Governor elect Greg Abbott recently traveled to Houston to discuss this issue with area politicians. Not only is Houston the largest city in the state, it is also home to the Texas Medical Center, an enormous complex of hospitals, medical schools and other academic institutions. Just about every person who works within this Center has a deep understanding of the need for federally expanded Medicaid whether one is a doctor, nurse, department administrator budget director or technician.
While I feel strongly that the state should have accepted federally expanded Medicaid since day 1, I am a little curious as to how the proponents will convince Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the tea party ideologues in Austin to consider it. They think of Medicaid as an entailment. A broken entitlement at that.
To be sure, the odds of any form of expansion start out as slim in a Legislature that is expected to be one of the most conservative in recent memory. The Senate, in particular, is expected to pursue an agenda supported by the tea party under the leadership of Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick.
But not everyone is paying attention to Dan Patrick and his tea party colleagues. Facts are facts. Need is need. The bottom line is Texas is in dire need of expanding Medicaid.
The Code Red Task Force conducted a study and reported its findings at a meeting at Rice University's Hobby Center for the Study of Texas.
As more Republican-led states accept Medicaid expansion or consider expanding the program to extend health coverage to the low-income uninsured, a report released Wednesday recommends Texas do the same.
The report by the Code Red Task Force on Access to Health Care in Texas says doing so would not only cover an estimated 1 million residents but also prevent billions of dollars in federal taxes paid by Texans from going to other states to fund their programs.
The Code Red Task Force, made up of health care providers, researchers, business leaders and advisers from across the state, also proposes development of more organized local and regional health care and creation of more medical residency programs to expand the state's health care workforce to improve patient care and keep people healthier. The group will discuss its findings Wednesday at Rice University's Baker Institute.
Are Dan Patrick and his tea party colleagues willing to squander Texas taxpayer dollars by sending them to other states? Maybe if someone convinces Patrick that Obamacare is actually Jesus Care would he go for it? I mean since the Lt. Governor elect believes he is office because Jesus sent him there, maybe Jesus would also expect for Patrick to take care of the sick and poor in the state he helps to govern?
Well, this is hardly my area of expertise so I'll leave that argument to the religious clergy.
Moving along to the report's important findings.
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