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Ruling Leaves Option Open For Texas to Expand Medicaid


The Supreme Court’s decision on the healthcare law threw many lawmakers in Washington for a loop. Now the Texas congressional delegation is examining how to proceed.

The High Court upheld the individual mandate but limited the government’s attempt to expand Medicaid.

Republicans were optimistic the justices would rule in their favor on the individual mandate but the court deflated their hopes. Five justices ruled the individual mandate is constitutional under Congress’ power of taxation, which Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said is what she’s been saying all along.

“The key part is the individual mandate which the court rightly pointed out is a tax and it is a huge tax increase on individuals small businesses. I think it is going to really hurt our economy and its going to really hurt job creation," Hutchison said.

The justices also ruled states can reject Congress’ effort to expand Medicaid coverage. If Texas Governor Rick Perry and the state legislature agree to take that federal cash, more than two and a half million people could become a part of that federal insurance program. But Hutchison said state lawmakers need to be cautious about accepting that federal handout. 

“I think the legislature is going to have to make a decision based on what the aftermath will be and now that the court has given them the ability to turn back the added requirement, I think they will have to look at the numbers and see what they decide,” Hutchison said.

The House has already voted thirty times to repeal the healthcare law. And when House lawmakers get back from their Fourth of July break, they’re planning another repeal vote. Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee says that shows their party is playing politics with the new law – and those in need of insurance. 

“When they get on the floor about repealing it you’re going to hear from me. My voice may be snuffed out because I don’t have the majority, but it will ask the Republicans on the other side of the isle is this you continued attempt to do violence against the sick,” Lee said.

Critics say the repeal effort is just politics because the effort is expected to die in the U.S. Senate. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.