Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
February 05, 2013
Contact: Jeremy Warren, 512-463-0113

Texans Support Expanding Medicaid under Affordable Care Act

Ohio is latest state to accept federal aid to cover uninsured

(Austin, Texas)—A recent poll shows a strong majority of Texans support expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to address Texas' worst in the nation uninsured crisis.

A January poll by the American Cancer Society Action Network showed 58 percent of Texans support extending Medicaid services to over a million more low-income Texans under the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare". Yesterday, Ohio Governor John Kasich announced that he would accept federal aid and expand his state's Medicaid program, joining conservative states like Arizona, Arkansas, Nevada and New Mexico.

"This debate is almost surreal," said Ellis. "Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the nation. We have one of the chintziest Medicaid programs in the nation, with hundreds of thousands of truly needy Texans left without insurance. For an investment of $15 billion, we could draw down as much as $100 billion in federal funds and expand health care coverage to 1.5 million low-income Texans over 10 years."

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs for Medicaid expansion for the first three years, and then gradually reduce to 90 percent thereafter. Texas cities and counties currently spend billions of dollars each year to cover the costs of uninsured Texans who show up in doctor's offices and emergency rooms.

Accepting ACA aid to expand Medicaid will:

"This should be a no-brainer," said Ellis. "It simply makes no sense to reject additional federal health aid. That's why states like Arizona, Arkansas, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio -- Republican states --have announced they are going to expand their Medicaid programs and help increase access to affordable health care."

Two recent studies show just how good a deal expanding Medicaid would be for Texas. According to an economic analysis by the Perryman Group, Texas would see a return of $1.29 for every $1 spent on Medicaid expansion, and the burden on local governments would be reduced by $1.21 for every dollar the state spent expanding the program. TheTexas Tribune recently cited a study commissioned by the Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas and Texas Impact, which estimated Texas would receive $100 billion in federal aid over ten years at a cost of only $15 billion. According to the report, unreimbursed health care costs to counties and hospital districts totaled $2.5 billion in 2011, and counties spent another $254 million on indigent care and unreimbursed jail health care costs.

Texas has long had the highest uninsured rate in the nation, and 6.1 million Texans lack real access to health care. Texas' Medicaid program currently spends less than the national average per enrollee, and also reimburses doctors, hospitals and other providers less than the national average.

"It is not a matter of 'if' Texas will accept the Affordable Care Act deal, but simply a matter of when'," said Ellis. "I believe we do millions of Texans a disservice -- at a real financial and human cost -- if we dither and delay implementing this common sense reform."