Texas Matters: Exploring Medicaid Expansion & 'The Cedar Choppers'

May 21, 2018

Credit The Texas Tribune

On this episode of "Texas Matters," this is one of 19 states to not expand Medicaid when the Affordable Care Act became law. Matthew Buettgens, lead author of the report “The Implications of Medicaid Expansion in the Remaining States,” joins us to discuss whether or not Medicaid expansion is good for the Lone Star state. Also, author Ken Roberts talks about a tight society of fiercely independent country folk – known as "The Cedar Choppers (10:30)."


Texas is one of 19 states that did not expand Medicaid when the Affordable Care Act became law. But for the states that did expand Medicaid, this gave about 16 million Americans health care coverage.

A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association looked at outcomes in Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas. Arkansas used Medicaid funds to offer private insurance to low-income individuals, while Kentucky opted for conventional Medicaid expansion.

In the two states that did expand, people had more access to primary care, paid lower out-of-pocket health-care costs and rarely skipped medications.

But what would happen if Texas voters made a change and elected leadership to expand Medicaid? What would be the cost and benefits?

'The Cedar Choppers' (Time 10:30)

For more than 150 years, the hills and cedar breaks of west central Texas was populated by a tight society of fiercely independent country folk known as "The Cedar Choppers."

They were Scottish, Irish and Welsh migrants from Appalachia who scratched out a way of life in the hard scrabble of the hill country, making a living by cutting and selling cedar logs.

Who are these people? And where did they go? Roberts set out to answer those questions and more in his new book, “The Cedar Choppers: Life on the Edge of Nothing.”

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org or on Twitter @DavidMartinDavi