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Texas Governor Says No To Health Care Provisions


Governor Rick Perry is turning down a state health insurance exchange and expansion of Medicaid. Those are two key provisions in the federal health care overhaul.

In a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Governor Perry calls the requirements for a state insurance exchange and expansion of Medicaid “brazen intrusions into the sovereignty of our state.” The governor says Medicaid is a broken, unsustainable program, and expanding it would bankrupt the state.

North Texas Republican State Representative Jodie Laubenberg agrees. She says Texas cannot afford to give 1.5 to 2 million more people a free ride.

“We cannot charge co-pays, we cannot put caps. We cannot restrict any kind of benefit coverage. But what we can do is define the eligibility parameters. Well, under ObamaCare, we are not allowed to do that.

Under the federal health care law, Texas would receive millions of dollars to support the Medicaid expansion. But Laubenberg says after three years, the state’s part would increase significantly. She calls that a budget-buster that would cost Texas taxpayers $10 to $20 billion over the first ten years.

Then there’s the issue of a health insurance exchange each state is supposed to create. It would provide a special marketplace for uninsured Texans to compare selected plans and buy subsidized insurance. If a state refuses to create an exchange, the federal government will do it. Governor Perry calls that socialized healthcare and he won’t be a party to it.

Twenty-five percent of Texans have no health insurance at all, the highest rate in the nation. Anne Dunkelberg, Associate Director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, says an exchange would allow millions of people now priced out of the market to find affordable insurance.

“One of the big parts of the health reform law is sliding scale help with your premiums, so that people with all different incomes can get different levels of help affording their premiums so long as they’re willing to pay their fair share.”

Enrollment in the exchange insurance policies is to begin in the fall of next year.

Gov. Perry Letter To Sebelius

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.