Friday, April 19, 2013

Obamacare Is Dead In Texas, Right? Think again.

Texas has the highest share of uninsured residents in the United States — about 29 percent of its adult population is uninsured — which costs Texans billions of dollars worth of uncompensated hospital care every year.  Texas Tribune: The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will help 2.6 million Texans get health care insurance.
Nearly 2.6 million Texans could qualify for tax credits to purchase health insurance in 2014, according to a report released Thursday by Families USA, a nonprofit that advocates for health care consumers.

The tax credits will be offered through the health insurance exchange — an Orbitz-style online marketplace for health insurance — that the federal government plans to launch as part of the Affordable Care Act in October. Beginning in January, families with an income of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line, between $47,100 and $94,200 for a family of four, will be eligible for a tax credit subsidy to purchase insurance through the exchange. The tax credits will be offered on a sliding scale, so that lower-income families will receive larger credits.

“These are typically the families where folks are working, sometimes more than one job,” U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, said of the report. “Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, I think that’s something we can all support.”

Nearly 5.8 million Texans — nearly a quarter of the state’s population — are uninsured. The Health and Human Services commission estimates the tax credits offered through the health insurance exchange and other provisions in the Affordable Care Act will lower that rate to 16 percent. If Texas also expanded Medicaid — an unlikely scenario given Gov. Rick Perry’s opposition — the uninsured rate could be lowered to 12 percent.  Perry says that Medicaid is a broken system and has called the Medicaid expansion of federal health reform “fiscal coercion.”

“Given the large number of people in Texas that are uninsured, many of whom are poor, this is an extraordinary opportunity,” said Ron Pollock, executive director of Families USA. He said it was “short-sighted” for the state’s leadership to oppose Medicaid expansion, as it would bring billions of federal dollars to the state, and increase job opportunities.
You can see the report for Texas here, and for other states here.

In Texas, Medicaid expansion would mean adding an estimated 2 million residents to Medicaid, for whom the federal government would cover 100% of that extra cost for the first three years, and then 90% after 2019. That would bring to the state an additional $13 billion a year, totaling roughly $100 billion before the end of the decade.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) doubled down earlier this month in his opposition to expanding Medicaid under Affordable Care Act, even though opposing it could cost Texas $90 billion. At a press conference Perry argued expanding the health insurance program for the poor would make Texas “hostage” to the federal government. “It would benefit no one in our state to see their taxes skyrocket and our economy crushed as our budget crumbled under the weight of oppressive Medicaid costs,” Perry said at the state capitol. Perry was flanked at  the press conference by top Texas Republicans, including rising conservative star Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. John Cornyn.

Republicans will, if they again gain full control of the federal government, repeal the Affordable Care Act, convert Medicare into a private insurance voucher program, and turn Medicaid into a severely underfunded state block grant program.  The Republican controlled U.S. House has voted 33 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act over the last three years and has passed multiple budget bills to convert Medicare into a private insurance voucher program.

Obamacare is dead in Texas, right? Think again.

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