Some Republican lawmakers — still reveling in Tuesday’s statewide election sweep — are proposing an unprecedented solution to the state’s estimated $25 billion budget shortfall: dropping out of the federal Medicaid program.
Far-right conservatives are offering that possibility in impassioned news conferences. Moderate Republicans are studying it behind closed doors. And the party’s advisers on health care policy say it is being discussed more seriously than ever, though they admit it may be as much a huge in-your-face to Washington as anything else.
“With Obamacare mandates coming down, we have a situation where we cannot reduce benefits or change eligibility” to cut costs, said State Representative Warren Chisum, Republican of Pampa, the veteran conservative lawmaker who recently entered the race for speaker of the House. “This system is bankrupting our state,” he said. “We need to get out of it. And with the budget shortfall we’re anticipating, we may have to act this year.”
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative research organization, estimates Texas could save $60 billion from 2013 to 2019 by opting out of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, dropping coverage for acute care but continuing to finance long-term care services. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which has 3.6 million children, people with disabilities and impoverished Texans enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, will release its own study on the effect of ending the state’s participation in the federal match program at some point between now and January.
State Representative John M. Zerwas, Republican of Simonton, an anesthesiologist who wrote the bill authorizing the health commission’s Medicaid study, said early indications were that dropping out of the program would have a tremendous financial ripple effect. Mr. Zerwas said that he was not ready to discount the idea, but that he worried about who would carry the burden of care without Medicaid’s “financial mechanism.”
Well, there's a pretty clear candidate for who will have to cover that burden of care. They just won't be able to afford it. Solution: less medical care.
And does anyone believe that the state can save $60 billion dollars over seven years without affecting quality of care? Isn't that the main complaint about "Obamacare", that choices about individual health care were going to be made by bureaucrats interested only in cost-savings and not quality of life? That you would lose coverage and have to pay more out of pocket? Who do you think is going to make up that $60 billion difference?
So yes, Texas drops Medicaid and SCHIP and substitutes its own, far less comprehensive plan. If you want fiscal responsibility, somebody's going to have to pay for it, dammit. Might as well start with kids and indigents who are a net drain on financial resources anyhow and aren't generating taxes. Guess death panels and benefit cuts are cool, just as long as it doesn't Joe Six-Pack. Besides, only "they" need Medicaid and SCHIP, right? Gotta tighten that belt.
Maybe this is a plan to get everyone in Texas who would lose coverage to move to other states, eh? Then it's not their problem anymore. Smart to go first.
Unless it's your family being affected. Look, I know there are plenty of problems with the health care system, my mom was a nurse for nearly thirty years. Picking up your ball and going home isn't the answer. People are still going to get sick and need medical care. Someone's going to have to pay for it, one way or another.
Insert "Texas, it's like a whole other country" joke here.