Perry Rejects Medicaid Expansion (Again), But Still Wants Federal Block Grant Waiver

Sep 24, 2013

 Gov. Rick Perry has sent the final instructions to the state’s health commissioner ahead of a meeting with federal officials regarding the implementation of Medicaid expansion in Texas.

The letter sent this week to Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Dr. Kyle Janeck begins by questioning the wisdom behind the Obama administration’s expansion of Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Perry tells the commissioner he wants a federal block grant that would allow Texas to set up its own form of Medicaid with a waiver. Other states that have filed similar waivers have been denied.

Lance Lunsford with the Texas Hospital Association said Perry’s waiver wouldn't extend coverage to 1.6 million Texans who don’t qualify for Medicaid and can’t afford private healthcare.

"When you look at the fact that the private market has to account for that uncovered population through cost-shifting you're looking at $1,800 a year on average in higher private health insurance premiums due to uncompensated care for the uninsured," Lunsford said.

Lunsford said he doesn't expect the federal government to approve the request for a block grant, leaving uninsured Texans the option of going to local hospital ERs to be treated.

In the coming week, the health commissioner will finalize the waiver and then meet with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to negotiate a deal.