The Medicad expansion is a really good deal. Let’s not kid ourselves, if it wasn’t we wouldn’t be hearing comments like this from House Speaker Joe Straus.
House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said Thursday that he is trying to steer the conversation toward reforms that make sense for Texas.
“After you say no, the next question is: OK, then what? We need to move forward now with something that is more specific, put it on the table and negotiate it,” Straus said.
A central question is whether an agreement can be crafted that wins the approval of Gov. Rick Perry, who adamantly opposes Medicaid expansion and vigorously attacked Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, in his unsuccessful presidential campaign.
Straus said he didn’t anticipate a conflict with Perry.
“I don’t think there’s separation here,” he said. “Gov. Perry is a good negotiator, and I don’t think he’ll make a bad deal for Texas. I just want the Legislature to be a good, supportive partner in trying to work out something that does make sense for Texas and for Texas taxpayers.”
Perry spokesman Josh Havens said the governor is looking for solutions that reinforce individual responsibility, control costs and address the state’s unique needs.
“Naturally, it all depends on what the proposal is,” Havens said. “The governor is always open to discussing Texas-based solutions because Texas knows best how to take care of Texans.”
It’s a good deal for the state, and an even better deal for city and county governments.
This seems to be the crux of the issue.
In total, unreimbursed charity care creates a $4.3 billion annual tax burden on local government entities and public hospitals, Billy Hamilton, the state’s former chief budget estimator, told the committee. Overall, he said, there is enough local and state spending in the current system to cover the state’s share of Medicaid expansion costs.
“I know this is a controversial issue… but I don’t really think you’re going to see a more overwhelming fiscal opportunity during your service here,” said Hamilton. “I served this Legislature for 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like it.” [Emphasis added]
The committee also heard testimony from judges from Harris and Dallas counties who spoke in favor of expanding Medicaid, and from John Davidson, a policy analyst from the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, who spoke against Medicaid expansion.
It’s a really good deal. Here’s Billy Hamilton’s testimony today at the House Appropriations Committee.
And Texas Impact has more video here. It’s obvious enough Republicans in The Lege want a deal. They just have to find a way in. Keep looking.