Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte vowed to overturn Republican opposition to expanding the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act if elected lieutenant governor, saying the state should act to protect poor, uninsured adults.
The San Antonio Democrat’s “Texas First Health Care Plan,” which she announced Friday at the Davila Pharmacy in San Antonio where she works as a pharmacist, attempts to close the coverage gap created when Texas lawmakers refused to expand Medicaid eligibility under the federal health reform law. She says expanding Medicaid is the “right choice” for the sky-high rate of uninsured Texans.
“As lieutenant governor, I’ll forge a Texas solution to draw down federal funds back to Texas taxpayers, protect Texas businesses, and expand access to affordable health care in our state,” Van de Putte said in a statement. “One out of every four Texans lacks health insurance. That system is unsustainable, bad for business, and bad for Texas families.
She contends that changing the state’s Medicaid program to insure poor adults — a feat that would require Republican support in the Legislature — could include cost-sharing between the state and beneficiaries, consisting of co-pays, income-based premiums on health plans, or using federal funds to purchase private insurance.
I’ll spare you the usual litany of why Medicaid expansion, or some other-named facsimile of Medicaid expansion, is a good idea. I will note that while Wendy Davis is busy frying other fish, she is also out there on the stump talking Medicaid expansion, too (via). Interestingly, it seems that Republican governors in other states that have expanded Medicaid in some form are doing better in the polls than their counterparts who refused. I don’t know that you can draw any broad conclusions from that, but better than if it were the other way around.
One has to wonder how this might play out if Davis and VdP get elected. We know there was a faction of Republicans in the Legislature, epitomized by Rep. John Zerwas, that wanted to find some kind of Medicaid expansion solution that could be called something else and contained at least a couple of conservative wish list items but which would be acceptable to the Obama administration and would allow the billions that Texas would receive to start flowing. They never got anywhere because of Rick Perry’s rigid ideological stance, but they tried. Would they be able to get something pushed through for Governor Davis to sign, or would the nihilist faction react with the same ferocity that Congressional Republicans showed President Obama and shut them down? Unfortunately, I suspect the latter is more likely, but that’s no reason not to elect Davis and Van de Putte and give it a try. It’s not like electing Abbott and Patrick will placate those folks and make them sit back placidly while the Lege goes about its normal business.