I know Rick Perry means well. But we all know about good intentions and where they take you.
The Texas governor just announced his state will not only refuse the Medicaid expansion, but they won’t be setting up their own state exchange either – as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“If anyone was in doubt, we in Texas have no intention to implement so-called state exchanges or to expand Medicaid under Obamacare,” Gov. Perry declared in a statement. “I will not be party to socializing health care and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government.
“I stand proudly with the growing chorus of governors who reject the Obamacare power grab,” the governor added. “Neither a ‘state’ exchange nor the expansion of Medicaid under this program would result in better ‘patient protection’ or in more ‘affordable care.’ They would only make Texas a mere appendage of the federal government when it comes to health care.”
I appreciate the governor’s objection. I really do. Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in. But you always have to consider the cost.
And for the great state of Texas, that means roughly $70 billion in over six years. Which is all well and good (and principled), but as the Urban Institute points out, state and local governments are on the hook for more than $10 billion a year in “uncompensated care” at hospitals across the country. So you can turn away the extra money, but you still can’t turn away those patients who use emergency rooms as their primary care providers. And you can’t walk away from the bills that stack up as a result.
And as far as the exchanges are concerned, all this does is actually give the federal government more control in your state by not establishing your own marketplace, not less. So, again, while Perry has the right idea, I’m not sure he’ll like how this turns out.
On a more personal note: Wildfires ravaging Colorado – our home here at BenefitsPro – have put our quiet little state on the national stage. For a couple of weeks, we in Denver watched as the smoked billowed up all around us – from as far north as Fort Collins (and later Wyoming) to the other end of the Front Range in Colorado Springs. In fact, my oldest daughter’s week-long summer stay with us turned into nearly a month as authorities evacuated her mother and brother.
So imagine my surprise this week as on my drive into work, I hear on the radio a story about how the seasonal firefighters who leave everything behind and throw their lives between us and nature’s fury, have the same health care coverage as that teenager serving you up a burger at lunch.
An online campaign is surging to change that, and offer these heroes the chance to buy the same coverage as full-time firefighters. See, they’re not even asking for a handout. They just want the chance to pay their own way. Forgive my step up on the charred soapbox, but as the smoke clears and the ashes settle, I can’t think of a better crusade right now.