Texas's Republican governor announced Monday that he would refuse to implement key portions of the Affordable Care Act, aka 'Obamacare,' a decision with severe medical and financial consequences for his state.
The Raw Story reports that Gov. Rick Perry's move to reject the Medicaid expansion and state-based health care exchanges will leave more than 1.2 million previously uninsured low-income Texans without health care coverage. It will also cost Texas an estimated $164 billion in federal aid.
In a letter to Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius, Gov. Perry called the Affordable Care Act, which provides life-saving health care to Americans who cannot afford it and establishes exchanges that will lower the cost of health insurance, "brazen intrusions into the sovereignty of our state."
Perry joins Republican governors from five other states-- Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Wisconsin-- in refusing to implement the Medicaid expansion and health care exchanges.
Perry said he was proud of his decision to reject key elements of the health care law.
"I stand proudly with the growing chorus of governors who reject the [Obamacare] power grab," he wrote. "Neither a 'state' exchange nor the expansion of Medicaid under the Orwellian-named PPACA would result in better 'patient protection' or in more 'affordable care,'" adding that expanding a "broken" and "already financially unsustainable" Medicaid program would threaten Texas with "financial ruin."
Texas already has the most draconian Medicaid requirements in the nation: to qualify, a family of three must earn no more than $188 per month. Under the new health care law, Medicaid coverage would be expanded to those earning 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which would mean health care for an additional 1.2 million Texans.
According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, such a life-saving expansion would cost Texas a mere 3 percent more than it is paying today. Washington would cover the rest.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission also estimated that an additional $164 billion would have entered the Texas health care system between 2014 and 2023 as a result of the expansion, creating many jobs and lowering insurance premiums.
Gov. Perry's move is especially alarming considering that nearly a quarter of Texans, or some 6.5 million people, are uninsured-- including 1.2 million children. Texas' health care system has also been ranked last in the nation, according to the federal government.
The Texas Democratic Party reacted angrily to the governor's announcement.
"Rick Perry's announcement is both cruel and negligent," the party said in a press release quoted by The Raw Story. "No person with a speck of intelligence would turn down billions in federal dollars that would be a boon to our economy and help Texans."
"But then again, this is Rick Perry. Rick Perry could've brought billions in federal dollars to Texas, reduced the rate of uninsured and improved the quality of life for Texans. Rick Perry's Texas solution is to let Texans stay ill and uninsured. That is not a health care plan."