Obama Uses Texas Stop To Push Medicaid Expansion, Attend Fundraisers
In front of hundreds of faith-based health care navigators in Dallas, President Barack Obama started his speech by citing different ways the Affordable Care Act is helping working families still recovering from the recession.
The president said Texas’ uninsured rate is the highest in the country, which would make the state biggest beneficiary of the Affordable Care Act if state leaders would sign on for Medicaid expansion.
"Across this state you’ve got a million people -- cause this is a big state -- a million people who don’t have health insurance that could get health insurance right away if the State of Texas decided to take advantage of it," Obama said.
But even before the president’s plane landed at Dallas’ Love Field, Gov. Rick Perry wanted Texans to know he was not about to be swayed by Obama’s message.
"President Obama deceived the American people by promising that anyone who liked their healthcare plan could keep it," Perry said in an audio statement. "Now he’s coming to Texas in a desperate attempt to salvage his ill-conceived and unpopular program from a titanic fate by preaching expansion of the same Medicaid that he himself admits is broken."
Obama said Medicaid expansion has nothing to do with the problems associated with Healthcare.gov, the online insurance marketplace.
"One of the things that sometimes gets me a little frustrated is folks who are complaining about how the website’s not working. You know, 'Why isn’t Obama fixing this and all these people are uninsured?' And yet they are leaving a million right now without health insurance that they could immediately fix. There’s not a lot of logic to that."
The president is confident that the website, healthcare.gov, will soon running smoothly and that a Medicaid expansion program will be available to all Texas residents in the near future.
Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott’s campaign for governor had a different criticism of Obama’s visit, summed up by the release of this video:
"Here in Texas we are doing finer than a frog hair split four-ways. So much so that President Obama is in Texas raising money and Washington is a day late and a dollar short."
The Abbott ad goes on to criticize the president’s statement about being able to keep pre-existing coverage under the Affordable Care Act and asserted that the real purpose of the visit was to drum up support for the Democratic Party.
The president’s first stop included a speech that lasted about 15 minutes and was followed by two private fundraising events.
Democratic Strategist Jason Sanford said the president’s trip to Dallas was more about addressing the Affordable Care Act than it was about fundraising.
"He could do that without making national news about Obamacare," Sanford said. "Right now Obamacare is under a lot of assault because of the horrible ham-handed rollout of the website. We’re having another national discussion about Obamacare right now and the president is choosing to engage in it in a really confrontational way."
Professor Cal Jilson, who teaches political science at Southern Methodist University, disagrees with Sandford’s assessment of the trip.
"He was also here to attend two very high-value wealthy donor fundraisers in wealthy areas of Dallas to take that money back to the Senate Campaign Committee to try and defend the Democratic majority for the United States Senate in the 2014 elections," Jillson said.
Jilson said if Republicans were able to keep their majority in the U.S. House and also took the Senate it would be a very bumpy ride for Obama during his last two years in office.