Texas, yes, Texas, may expand Medicaid

Texas flag

Texas flag

Texas has been a refusenik state — with no state health exchange and no Medicaid expansion for adults — but that could change.

The incoming governor recently suggested that he’s looking at an alternative to traditional Medicaid, the one negotiated by Utah with the federal government but not yet adopted by the state legislature.

[Gov. elect Greg Abbott], the longtime attorney general, who made a name for himself by suing President Barack Obama and his administration, asked for more information about a compromise recently struck by the Republican governor of Utah and the federal government that could pave the way for that heavily conservative state to expand Medicaid through the president’s signature health care law.

“I don’t even know anything about the Utah model, but it was encouraging because it sounded like at least he’s looking at options,” said one of the attendees, Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, who supports Medicaid expansion. “It was like, if he’s bringing this up, he’s not shutting the door on it. I think he’s open to looking at it.” [source]

Why might conservative Texas consider this?

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the U.S.

The state’s political leaders have refused to expand Medicaid for adults, although they did for school age children.

About 1.8 million people would gain coverage if Texas expanded Medicaid.

There are also big financial ramifications for Texas.

One study found that “By 2022, Texas could lose $9.2 billion by not expanding Medicaid as allowed under the Affordable Care Act.”

And what’s in the Utah plan?

  • It has a work requirement unless one’s “medically frail” or 60 or above.
  • There are co-pays for most medical services.
  • And it uses the same private insurance companies that are in Utah’s health insurance exchange.

You have to think, if these are good enough for Utah’s GOP governor and maybe good enough for Texas’s incoming GOP governor, maybe Maine’s GOP governor could support it.

Thus far Gov. LePage has been resistant to expanding Medicaid, but maybe there is a way.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.