DALLAS — Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Monday said he would reject an estimated $62 billion in federal funding to expand Medicaid in the state, citing states’ rights.
“If anyone was in doubt, we in Texas have no intention to implement so-called state exchanges or to expand Medicaid under Obamacare,” Perry said. “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.”
The possibility of Texas going bankrupt has not been contemplated by rating agencies, which give the state ratings near the top of the scale.
Perry, the state’s longest-serving governor, once floated the idea of Texas seceding from the United States while addressing a Tea Party rally. He did not pursue the possibility after the statement became the target of derision by some critics.
Texas, a state with widespread poverty and the largest percentage of residents in the nation without health insurance, would have been one of the top beneficiaries under the Affordable Care Act that Perry and other Republicans disparage as “Obamacare.”
“I stand proudly with the growing chorus of governors who reject the Obamacare power grab,” said Perry, who failed to win the Republican Party nomination to oppose Obama in this year’s presidential election.
Perry proclaimed that he has rejected federal funding when strings are attached that impose long-term financial burdens on Texans, or cede state control of state issues to the federal government. In 2009, he rejected Washington funding for the state’s unemployment insurance program. In 2010, Perry rejected “Race to the Top” dollars for public schools.
Also in 2010, Perry proposed abandoning Medicaid, saying its growth was straining the state budget. However, he backed off from that position after a study showed dire consequences for such a move.
Medicaid pays for half of all births in Texas and helps two-thirds of Texans in nursing homes.
Texas would have received at least 10 times more in federal dollars than it would have paid for Medicaid in 2014-19 under provisions of ACA, according to studies. A Kaiser Commission report estimates that Texas would have spent $4.5 billion and the federal government would have paid $62 billion. Actual numbers would have depended on how many enroll.
In the past 10 years, the state added almost half a million jobs in clinics, hospitals, doctors’ offices and home health services, accounting for 36% of all nonfarm jobs created since 2002, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Under the ACA in 2014, Medicaid is expected to cover about 16 million more Americans, including anyone with an income below 133% of the federal poverty line. Those included would be prison inmates, so that by rejecting the expansion, Texas is rejecting funds that would have covered hospital treatment for prisoners.
After 2019, Texas would be responsible for only 10% of their coverage. State health insurance exchanges are required by 2014.