Healthcare is a human right state lawmakers are denying our fellow Texans by not expanding Medicaid. Right now, 760,000 Texans do not have realistic access to healthcare. Overall, 2.5 million Texans could be covered if the state expanding the program. In addition to the moral responsibility state politicians have to us, there is also an economic duty.
To date, 33 states have expanded Medicaid, with Utah, Nebraska and Idaho holding referendums in November. Conservative states such as North Dakota, West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana and Montana have all expanded Medicaid without any added requirements, showing that states similar to Texas have the potential to expand.
Expanding Medicaid would allow people making 133 percent, or $16,753, above the federal poverty line to opt in to coverage. Children are eligible for Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for household incomes making 201 percent above the federal poverty line.
Besides the moral argument against not expanding Medicaid, there is also the economic argument. The state of Texas will leave over $100 billion on the table over the next decade by not expanding Medicaid. The state’s emergency rooms spend roughly $5.5 billion treating uninsured Texans per year. If state lawmakers were to expand Medicaid, this number would drop considerably. That is why state hospitals and businesses have been lobbying politicians in Austin about how smart it would be to expand.
By 2021, Texas will lose its $25 billion from the federal government for uncompensated care, meaning all that money will have to be paid for by the state. However, if Texas were to expand Medicaid, the state would not be responsible for this care. As a result, from 2014 to 2024, assuming Medicaid is not expanded, Texans will pay $36.2 billion in federal taxes that will be used to pay for other states Medicaid expansion. Why should Texans have to pay so much for something they do not use? If Texas expanded Medicaid, Texans would see this money go right back into our own citizens.
Healthcare is a right, and the Texas state legislature is denying millions of Texans a human right by not expanding Medicaid. 766,000 Texans have no realistic access to healthcare without expanding Medicaid. This is unacceptable. Every Texan deserves, not only access to healthcare, but access to affordable healthcare.
If I am sent to Austin, we will push for Texas to make healthcare a human right. My first act of healthcare business will be pushing for Texas to expand Medicaid. That is the absolute least we can do for our fellow Texans. It is the government’s duty to protect its citizens; this is why we have a strong military. By not expanding Medicaid, lawmakers are knowly not protecting Texans the same way they would if the did not send the military out to defend our country. If I am elected as your state senator, I will bring a bill to the floor requiring the state to provide Medicaid for persons under the age of 65 with incomes equal to or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line.
Another option to reduce the costs of insurance on the ACA individual market would be to introduce a re-insurance program for insurers. The plan would pay insurers for covering particularly costly procedures, and keep costs low for patients. Texas would apply for a 1332 State Innovation Waiver from the Department of Health and Human Services and divert federal funds to a re-insurance program. Re-insurance would serve as a backstop on prices, preventing insurance companies for footing the bill for patients they cannot afford. Even after Texas expands Medicaid, almost 4 million Texans would still have no health insurance. A program like this would not only provide an option for those Texans still uninsured, but it would also help those who already have private health insurance.