Top Texas Republicans Unite Against Obama Medicaid Expansion

Posted: Apr 03, 2013 11:30 AM
Texas' top Republicans Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn teamed up Monday to oppose expanding Medicaid services in the state.

Each leader slammed Medicaid, which is run jointly by federal and state officials, as an example of government overreach.

Governor Perry told the Obama administration to keep their money and argued expanding the health insurance program for the poor would make Texas “hostage” to the federal government.

“In 2009 President Obama himself called Medicaid a broken system,” Perry said at the state capitol. “Medicaid expansion is, simply put, a misguided and ultimately doomed attempt to mask the shortcomings of Obamacare.”

“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,” he added.

Texas is one of the 26 states that have refused to expand Medicaid: it's the one provision of Obamacare the Supreme Court will allow states to opt out of.

“Why in the world would we keep expanding this flawed system, and jamming more and more people into a program where they can’t find a doctor who will see them?” said Sen. John Cornyn.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a tea party firebrand, wants to repeal the entire health care reform law and said during the conference if Medicaid is expanded it “is going to consume a larger and larger share of the state budget that will crowd out education and infrastructure and law enforcement.”

“It’s taking money away from teachers, roads, water, and other vital programs,” Cruz said.

Their rare joint appearance was marred by about 40 protesters, who want Texas to expand Medicaid, screaming "Health care now!" "Perry, take the money!" and "Let us in!" outside the governor's Texas Capitol office.

The protesters were joined by rising stars of the Democrat party including San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, his twin brother Rep. Joaquin Castro and Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, head of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus. They demanded Perry to negotiate with federal officials and win the flexibility to allow Texas to accept Medicaid expansion on its own terms.

"We believe that expanding Medicaid is not only the moral thing to do, but its' also economically the right thing to do,” Rep. Joaquin Castro said.

Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said that of 3.6 million uninsured Hispanics in Texas, 58 percent would be covered by Medicaid expansion.

"These are not people looking for handouts these are people who actually have jobs. They can’t get insurance and if it’s offered they can’t afford it,” Martinez Fischer said. “All we are asking for is to give them a little bit of help, but saying no, saying manana is not going to get us there.

"Manana is the busiest day of the week in the Texas Capitol. We never get to it," he added.

Texas has the highest share of uninsured residents in the United States and confronts billions of dollars’ worth of uncompensated hospital care every year.

Twenty five governors indicated support for Medicaid expansion, 15 say they want no part of it and 10 others remain undecided. But Perry said Monday leaders who have chosen to embrace the policy will “come to rue the day, because Medicaid will take a larger and larger share of their state budgets.”