(Austin, TX)//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:
• allow millions of Texans, who previously may have been unable to afford health care, access to quality health insurance and care.
• bring tens of billions of taxpayer dollars back to the state, create jobs and provide health insurance to approximately 1.5 million additional Texans – over 1.1 million adults, 400,000 children.
• Reduce Texas hospitals bills for uncompensated care. Currently, hospitals absorb more than $5 billion per year in uncompensated care, a loss that is passed on in the form of higher prices, as well as a direct tax in areas that have hospital districts.
• The expansion of Medicaid costs less in four years than what Texas hospitals spend on the uninsured population in one year.
“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. The Texas 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.”