A month after confessing his desire for the Legislature to have a conservation about Medicaid expansion, Speaker Straus now says it’s time to “get our heads out of the sand” in order to find a “Texas solution.” The problem? His idea of a solution is really nothing more than a sugarcoated version of what the Obama administration is already offering.
“We need to move beyond the word ‘no’ to something the administration might entertain.”
Gov. Perry has made it abundantly clear that he steadfastly opposes the expansion of Medicaid, and the House GOP caucus voted nearly unanimously to oppose it (but only committed to opposing it “in the current form”). Mr. Straus has made it abundantly clear the only thing he steadfastly opposes is standing up to the Obama administration’s bankrupt fiscal policies.
Knowing that Medicaid expansion under the current terms proposed by the Obama administration is completely off the table, members of the grow-government crowd in the Capitol have been speculating about what type of “compromise” the Legislature might agree to with the Obama administration.
The most common idea thrown against the wall would mimic the recent Arkansas deal struck with the feds, permitting the billions of federal tax dollars to be used to subsidize the purchase of private insurance for everyone making less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
Private insurance instead of a government bureaucracy? How innovative! How flexible! Or at least so they say…
Not discussed about the Arkansas plan is the requirement that these private insurance plans match the same benefits and cost-sharing requirements as what would otherwise be mandated under the original Medicaid expansion offer.
Couple that with the fact that private insurance premiums are set to skyrocket thanks to the litany of regulations set by ObamaCare, and you come up with a system that costs on average $3,000 more per person under virtually the same conditions originally put forth by the federal government.
But who cares? The feds are paying for all of it anyway! Until 2017 at least, when the federal government’s contribution level drops to 90 percent, leaving Arkansas with an even higher bill than they otherwise would have had—a fact that even a spokesman for Arkansas, Gov. Mike Beebe, acknowledged!
Short of a block grant to free up the state to administer the program exactly how it sees fit, a “Texas solution” to Medicaid expansion as Speaker Straus suggests really isn’t a solution at all. It’s simply a way for Mr. Straus and his colleagues to save face while they grow government and shirk opportunities for taxpayers to hold them accountable when the bill finally arrives.
Sugarcoating a poison pill doesn’t make it any less poisonous, just like expanding Medicaid under the guise of a “flexible compromise” isn’t any less hazardous to the health of our state’s fiscal future. Taxpayers must continue to urge their legislators to stand strong in opposition.