Despite numerous repudiations by the GOP rank and file, leadership in the Texas House continue to move closer to Medicaid expansion. A bill authored by a key Straus lieutenant pushing for a “Texas Solution” will now see the light of day on the House floor.
HB 3791 by State Rep. John Zerwas (R – Simonton), Speaker Straus’ point-man on healthcare policy, was voted out of the full Approprations Committee 15-9 this morning, sending it on to the Calendar’s Committee to be scheduled for a vote on the house floor. (We’ll update this post with the vote breakdown when the committee minutes are posted. Early reports show San Angelo Rep. Drew Darby was a “resounding and unequivocal yes.”)
HB 3791 seeks to find a “Texas Solution” to Medicaid, a sugar-coated version of the Obama Administration’s proposal to drastically expand a massive entitlement program – something that would cost the state billions of additional tax dollars in just a few short years. In other words, Zerwas’ proposal is neither a solution nor good for Texas.
Speaker Straus expressed his desire for such a “Texas Solution” to the Austin press corps at the beginning of session, while Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, and Attorney General Abbott were all saying “No way, no how!” It appears Mr. Straus just doesn’t care that the majority of GOP members in the House, as well as grassroots conservatives, are all opposed to any expansion of Medicaid.
Mr. Zerwas says his bill is not Medicaid expansion because it’s actually “the creation of a new program.” No seriously. We’re all supposed to feel better about growing government because he’s calling it a new program, instead of an expansion of an existing one. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Oh by the way, two of the biggest pro-Medicaid expansion Democrats and the one Republican who voted in favor of outright expansion in caucus are co-authors of his bill. That’s not suspicious at all. Move along folks, nothing to see here!
Based on Mr. Straus’ desire for the House to not take up any conservative reform this session, they’ll have plenty of room on the House calendar to talk about Medicaid expansion. Apparently a vote in the GOP caucus opposing expansion, a reconsideration of Mr. Zerwas’ Medicaid expansion amendment to the budget, and a motion to instruct budget conferees to not even think about expansion hasn’t sent a strong enough message to House leadership.
Tell your legislators to stand firm in opposition to any and all forms of Medicaid expansion. Texas simply can’t afford it.
Here is the breakdown of votes in the Appropriations Committee to send the pro-Medicaid Expansion HB 3791 to Calendars for a vote on the floor:
Ayes: Jim Pitts (R), Sylvester Turner (D), Myra Crownover (R), Drew Darby (R), Helen Giddings (D), Susan King (R), Oscar Longoria (D), Marisa Marquez (D), Ruth McClendon (D), Sergio Munoz, Jr. (D), John Otto (R), Diane Patrick (R), Four Price (R), John Raney (R), John Zerwas (R)