|BROWNSVILLE, April 1 - Of course it was April Fools’ Day. Sadly, though, for two million uninsured Texans, Governor Perry, and Senators Cornyn and Cruz were not joking.
The three men (all of whom themselves enjoy Cadillac-level health insurance) promised to do their level best put a stop to the Medicaid expansion piece of the Affordable Care Act. Perry explained his position saying, “Texas would not be held hostage by the federal government.”
It is the governor, however, not the federal government, who is playing hostage with lives. Without Medicaid expansion, nearly 3,000 of our fellow Texans will die next year (this according to the New England Journal of Medicine).
In the Rio Grande Valley, Medicaid expansion would give 150,000 people health coverage. Those folks would be able to visit a clinic instead of an emergency room, and would rest a little better at night, knowing that they could have access to the health care that is, after all, their human right.
In a region living through an epidemic of diabetes, a disease that can be detected and controlled, such insurance would be a boon to those health advocates desperately searching for ways to stem this suffering
The Medicaid expansion portion of Affordable Care Act would bring $600,000,000 of federal funds into our region over the next three years, monies which in turn would generate further income—numbers offered by the Perryman group, conservatives who tend to shy away from making up things.
Medicaid expansion is, quite simply, a great deal for our community, but one that Governor Perry has stubbornly turned his back on. On the other hand, refusing to accept this funding would leave Texas employers in the position of having to pay higher federal tax penalties. One estimate (Jackson Hewitt Tax Service) puts those costs as high as $448 million a year. The monies involved in the Medicaid expansion are so extraordinary that the Moody Credit Agency has put Texas on notice, as local hospitals and communities will have to pay more to cover the 1.5 million Texans who would qualify for the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.
Medicaid expansion is an option that we simply cannot afford to turn down. Working Texans’ lives turn on that decision—and that makes this a matter of conscience, and not simply economics, and, much less, of politics.
Michael Seifert is network weaver for the RGV Equal Voice Network.