03.19.13

Medicaid expansion showing fault lines in Texas GOP

Posted in Around The State, Commissioners Court, Health Care at 10:20 am by wcnews

This is a very interesting article on the division inside the Texas GOP over expanding Medicaid.  Mostly between the “bidness” community and the wing nuts, Perry Pressured by Texas Businesses Over Medicaid Refusal.

Businesses are often allied with Perry, a failed contender for last year’s Republican presidential nomination. The chambers, however, argue Texas shouldn’t pass up $100 billion over the next decade to cover 1.5 million adults. Obama’s plan would pay all costs until 2016, then the state’s share would gradually increase to 10 percent in 2020. Perry says that’s too expensive.

“This may be the only time that we have taken an actual formal position that is opposite that of the governor,” said Richard Dayoub, chief executive officer of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t know of any issue that has created so much concern across the state and has amassed so much support across party lines and throughout the business sector.”

Chambers supporting expansion in Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Arlington include members ranging from publicly traded companies to small shoe stores and family restaurants, many of them strained by health costs.

With so many uninsured in Texas this seems to many business and corporate Republicans as a no brainer.

About 29 percent of Texas citizens lack insurance, according to a March 8 poll by Gallup Inc. The state ranked 40th in health last year because 30 percent of residents are obese and one of every four children lives in poverty, according to United Health Foundation, affiliated with UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH).

Hospitals have urged expansion because it will reduce expensive and ineffective emergency-room visits, said Stephen Mansfield, chief executive of Methodist Health System in Dallas and next year’s chairman of the 2,100-member Dallas Regional Chamber.
“The eight other Republican governors were just as opposed to this initially as Rick Perry,” said Mansfield, who met with him in February. “They came to understand the economics.”

Chamber lobbyists from Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio have discussed Medicaid with legislators during the current session in Austin, officials said. Dayoub of the El Paso chamber spoke with Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus, both Republicans, and about 35 legislators of both parties.

Business groups “are looking short term,” said Republican Senator David Duell, a Greenville physician who met with chamber representatives. He said he doubted the Obama administration’s commitment “with the long-term viability of the federal government in question.”

Such opposition is “idiocy,” said Margaret Jordan, a former Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas director who is president of Dallas Medical Resources, a consortium of hospital executives and businesspeople headed by billionaire oilman Ray Hunt. “Medicaid expansion is a win-win for everybody.”

Refusing to expand Medicaid could cost Texas employers as much as $448 million in fines because the 2010 law penalizes some companies when workers can’t obtain affordable coverage, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. said in a March 13 report.

Perry and other opponents will compromise because of pressure from hospitals and businesses, Trevor Fetter, chief executive officer of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Inc. (THC), said in an interview Feb. 27. Tenet is the third-largest U.S. hospital firm.

“There isn’t a scenario I can envision that is worse than the status quo in Texas,” Fetter said.

The problem for the “bidness” community in Texas is that Perry is no longer accountable to them. He’s now controlled by his ego and adherence to extreme ideology.  But they only have themselves to blame.  They created this monster and have allowed it to grow beyond their control. And now that something they want and need is not ideological pure to the politicians they’ve been bankrolling, they’re unable to turn the screws.

The influence of business on Texas Republicans is modest compared with that of evangelicals and Tea Party-affiliated groups, said Mark Jones, who teaches politics at Houston’s Rice University.

“The Republican base views Obamacare as a matter of principle, while the monied interests view it as a dollars and cents issue,” Jones said.

And it doesn’t look like anything anyone says, not matter how logical and sound it may be, can change their mind. That kind of argument doesn’t work on ideology.

Duncan, however, says Texas can’t afford the deal because Medicaid crowds out spending for education, parks and other priorities.

“It’s not a free lunch,” Duncan said. He said he was unconvinced by studies by former deputy State Comptroller Billy Hamilton and Waco economist Ray Perryman suggesting expansion would boost the state’s economy by increasing business activity and productivity.

It was inevitable. The GOP in Texas has gotten so extreme over the last several years that they can no longer be worked with. They have their agenda and that’s it. It’s sad and funny all at the same time. The business community is now reaping what it sowed.

What this article shows is that there are many who support the Texas GOP financially that are for expanding Medicaid. The only one in a position of power that’s likely for Medicaid expansion is Speaker Joe Straus, but he won’t really say it out loud. As stated before, if the far right in Texas won’t go for the greed argument it’s hard to see anything that can trump their ideology.

Here’s the latest list from Progress Texas that shows Who Supports Medicaid Expansion in Texas.

3 Comments »

  1. Eye on Williamson » TPA Blog Round Up (March 25, 2013) said,

    March 25, 2013 at 9:25 am

    [...] WCNews at Eye on Williamson points out that the “bidness” community in Texas needs some GOP moderates to get Medicaid expanded in Texas, Medicaid expansion showing fault lines in Texas GOP. [...]

  2. Businesses say they want Medicaid expansion, too – Off the Kuff said,

    March 26, 2013 at 4:54 am

    [...] Democratic Congressional delegation chides Rick Perry for his continued mulishness on this topic. EoW and BOR have [...]

  3. Texas blog roundup for the week of March 25 – Off the Kuff said,

    March 28, 2013 at 4:46 am

    [...] WCNews at Eye on Williamson points out that the “bidness” community in Texas needs some GOP moderates to get Medicaid expanded in Texas, Medicaid expansion showing fault lines in Texas GOP. [...]

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