I just got out of a press conference with Congressman Joaquin Castro, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and other Democratic leaders who urged Governor Perry and Republican leadership to accept Medicaid expansion.
Earlier this morning, Governor Perry, U.S Senator John Cornyn, and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz took a stubborn stand against the expansion. Governor Perry was quoted by the Dallas Morning News as saying “Texas will not be participating in Medicaid expansion.”
Political stunts like the one held today by Governor Perry make it clear that he is not getting the message. We need to stop playing politics with the health of our constituents. There is too much is at stake.
There is not a state in the country that would benefit more – both in the total number of dollars received and in reduction in the total number of uninsured – than Texas.
Even as we work toward expansion of Medicaid under the ACA, there are some positive changes coming to Texas, no matter what our Republican leaders say. Just this past week in the Insurance Committee, I learned that there are positive elements of the ACA already being implemented . For example, starting in 2014, Medicaid participants will only have to enroll every 12 months, as opposed to six. The assets test, which unfairly penalizes many applying for Medicaid coverage, will also be abolished in 2014. These are important reforms to Medicaid that will help people across our state and in our district, and I am happy to see them taking place.
The stakes are high for Texas. With nearly a quarter of our state’s population without coverage, we have the highest uninsured rate in the nation, a sad fact that costs all of us, whether we have insurance or not. Faith-based, medical, and even business groups are joining in the call to the Republican leadership to do the right thing for Texas and accept Medicaid expansion. I remain hopeful that by speaking up and speaking out, good conscience and common sense will prevail.
Chris supports expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in order to decrease the number of uninsured children in our state. In 2009, Chris co-authored a measure that would expand CHIP eligibility to include children whose family incomes are between 101 to 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
Chris also authored a measure that would allow parents to deduct child support payments made from the income amount used to determine CHIP eligibility. Chris also supports extending the Medicaid enrollment period from six months to one year, as it is in most other states.
Chris also believes we must crack down on insurance companies who deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions or drop people because they get sick.
Chris supports President Obama’s health care reform and will work for its implementation in Texas.
This morning, we learned that Governor Rick Perry is making the shortsighted and ill-informed decision to not pursue Medicaid expansion or set up a state insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act. The governor’s announcement is about politics, nothing more, and will only serve to lengthen Texas’ unfortunate reign as the state with the highest rate of uninsured.