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Medicaid expansion on tap?

Letter to the Editor
Sunday, March 24, 2019

Editor,

There’s hope for Medicaid expansion

It’s exciting to see that the Texas legislature is considering offering a constitutional amendment to “Let the People Vote” on accepting Medicaid dollars for our citizens who cannot afford health insurance on the private market. (HJR40). For years we’ve left dollars on the table, sacrificing the health of vulnerable Texans and depriving the state of much needed income. Accepting Medicaid expansion would mean that:

  • Four and a half million more Texans would be able to see a doctor when they are ill;
  • No longer would Texas’ mortality rate for women and babies be the highest in the country because new moms would have continued access to health care;
  • No longer would Texas have the highest uninsured rate in the country (19 percent);
  • Hospitals no longer would have to bear as much expense of uncompensated care because people could have insurance;
  • Small, financially challenged hospitals in rural areas would not be forced to close their doors for lack of funding;
  • Money that is now spent by the state and counties for health care would be freed up for other critical needs such as public schools;
  • The Texas Legislature would not need to take $2.1 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to address the Medicaid shortfall as proposed this year in Senate Bill 500;
  • No longer would Texans be helping fund health insurance for people in other states while depriving our own citizens.

The Houston Chronicle reported in 2017 that Texas had passed over $100 billion during the decade by refusing Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.  This makes no sense to the 66 percent of Texans, who according to polls, would support Medicaid expansion.  Of course, given the opportunity, people who favor it would actually have to vote!  

Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah, other “deeply red” states, have achieved Medicaid expansion by allowing the people vote. Let’s encourage our representatives to support legislation to Let the People Vote and then, when the opportunity materializes, vote for our fellow Texans and honor Lyndon Baines Johnson, U.S. President who quoted Deuteronomy when he signed into law the original Medicare and Medicaid legislation in 1965:   “Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.”

Betsy Singleton

San Marcos