Congressional leaders work to bring needed flexibility for reforms
Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz held a roundtable followed by a press conference to discuss the flexibility needed by states to enact meaningful reforms to the existing, broken Medicaid program. They were joined by Congressmen Joe Barton and Michael C. Burgess, M.D., Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek, as well as the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). Several Texas lawmakers and groups also joined in support of reforming the current Medicaid system and providing flexibility.
“Medicaid expansion is a misguided, and ultimately doomed, attempt to mask the shortcomings of Obamacare. It would benefit no one in our state to see their taxes skyrocket and our economy crushed as our budget crumbled under the weight of oppressive Medicaid costs,” Gov. Perry said. “Texas doesn’t need another mandate, but the flexibility to care for our own in a manner that makes sense both effectively and financially.”
Gov. Perry sent a letter to and met with the Texas Congressional Delegation last month to ask for their help in securing flexible federal funding that would allow the state to implement reforms to the existing Medicaid program, which already consumes a quarter of Texas’ budget. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission projects Medicaid expansion alone would cost tens of billions in combined state and federal funds over the next 10 years.
“Medicaid is a broken system that is failing Texans and overwhelming the state budget. The program must be fundamentally reformed, and Texas – not the federal government – is best suited to design a health care program for its poorest and most vulnerable residents,” Sen. Cornyn said. “The time has come for Congress to allow the states to do just that, with a block grant of federal Medicaid funds.”
From 1990 to 2010, national Medicaid expenditures rose from $73.7 billion to $401.4 billion, an increase of about 445 percent. Over that same period, the national Medicaid caseload increased by 135 percent, from 22.8 million to 53.6 million individuals. Only three in 10 Texas doctors are currently accepting new Medicaid patients.
“I am proud that Gov. Perry and other Texas leaders are standing strong to oppose Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, while so many other states are giving in,” Sen. Cruz said. “The Supreme Court made clear that the Constitution does not allow the federal government to force states to expand Medicaid, and doing so would impose crippling pressures on the Texas budget for decades to come — pressures that would crowd out other vital state priorities like public education, infrastructure, and law enforcement. In the long term, we need fundamental reform of Medicaid, so that it can truly help the most vulnerable among us. Texas knows best how to care for Texans.”
Statements by members of Congress, Texas leaders and groups standing in opposition of Medicaid expansion and in support of Medicaid reform:
Congressman Joe Barton:
“Medicaid is a vitally important program that helps tens of millions in need, but ObamaCare blindly expands the program leaving already cash strapped state budgets to deal with crushing costs and a more burdensome bureaucracy. Instead of expanding an already broken system, it is imperative that we give states more flexibility than ever to run and reform the programs they best way they see fit. We are working in Washington to make sure Texas is able to provide medical care to the people who need it most, while at the same time being good stewards of taxpayer money.”
Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D.:
“When President Obama decided to implement a government takeover of our health care system, there wasn’t a focused discussion on what would happen if Medicaid was expanded to fill coverage gaps. Instead, a system that was created in 1965, and for a small population, was deemed the best option to provide health care coverage for low-income Americans. If we really want to reform our health care system, we need to look at a range of solutions that will address the fundamental issues and examine the benefits and drawbacks. Possible options are out there, and vary greatly in their approach and scope.”
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst:
“Medicaid is a broken, unsustainable federal program that could eventually bankrupt Texas and all states, and it’s nuts to expand it. I’ve spoken with our Texas Senators about examining all the best ideas being considered nationwide on Medicaid, but I’m not willing to consider going forward unless we can agree on a solution that is right for Texas. That solution would require cutting the federal strings and allowing us to structure a program that gives our state the flexibility to administer a Texas solution for our unique Medicaid population, and the freedom to pull out of the program if the federal government fails to honor its word, which frankly, I’m very worried about.”
Rep. Lois Kolkhorst:
“I appreciate Gov. Perry, Sen. Cornyn and Sen. Cruz as we continue to the important conversation of government-funded healthcare. This debate will shape our nation’s debt and financial future for generations. That’s why I’m honored to play a part as we seek Texas solutions. When we reform the Medicaid system, Texas can lead the way to a brighter future here at home, and across the country.”
Brooke Rollins, TPPF:
“Medicaid was established nearly half a century ago to serve the neediest among us. Today, in Texas, it no longer fulfills that purpose; instead, it provides poor care that’s even been proven in some cases to be worse than no insurance at all, and over two-thirds of Texas physicians won’t accept new Medicaid patients. Yet instead of reforming the program, Washington, D.C., under ObamaCare wants to expand it, and pour more money that it doesn’t have into a program that doesn’t work. There is a better path: Texas can reform Medicaid without expanding it, under ObamaCare or any other scheme, if only D.C. will get out of the way.