Texas Governor Rick Perry’s administration is negotiating with the Obama administration about accepting an estimated $100 million in federal funding to expand Texas’ Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, POLITICO reports. In May, the state denied government assistance for Medicaid expansion because Texas Republicans felt that “even $1 in the name of ‘Obamacare’ was a dollar too much.”
Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012, but the court limited the federal government’s ability to penalize states who chose not to comply. Gov. Perry has long been an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act, even saying that “Texas will not be held hostage by the Obama administration’s attempt to force us into this fool’s errand of adding more than a million Texans to a broken system.”
The state of Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured residents in the country. Yet lawmakers still turned away billions of dollars that would have provided health care to 1.5 million of the state’s poor residents. Perry and Texas Republicans refused to participate in Medicare expansion because it is part of Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Yet Perry’s health officials will now accept government funding through an optional Affordable Care Act program called “Community First” Choice, which offers community-based assistance to Medicaid beneficiaries with disabilities. About 12,000 Texans could benefit from the government funding in the first year alone.
Josh Havens, a Perry spokesman, said in a statement that Rick Perry has wanted to help those with disabilities “Long before Obamacare was forced on the American people…”
Supporters of Texas’ decision to participate in the “Community First” Choice assistance program, who were contacted by POLITICO, were fearful that even a news report on Perry’s decision to adopt a portion of the Affordable Care Act (after his repeated attacks on Obamacare) could result in the administration backing out of the program.
“Rick Perry has accepted federal funds in the past. He’s accepted federal funds on a regular basis when it suits his needs, whether it was using federal stimulus dollars to balance the state budget or accepting FEMA money…” Ginny Goldman, director of the Texas Organizing Project told POLITICO. “Sadly he is driven by his political interests above all else and when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, he’s willing to turn his back on 1.5 million people who need healthcare.”