Medicaid coverage in Texas could soon change - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: |

Medicaid coverage in Texas could soon change

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Amarillo, TX - An impending Medicaid expansion will give millions in Texas access to health care - if our state legislators choose to comply with federal regulation.

The Affordable Care Act is set to take effect in August, and a recent report estimates the new federal funding would expand Medicaid to about 2 million Texans statewide and a little over 30,000 right here in Amarillo.  But lawmakers say federal dollars tend to come with federal oversight.

Texas lawmakers have rejected federal funds several times on grounds it constitutes federal overreach, as District 13 Representative Mac Thornberry explains, "In the case of Medicaid in particular, if you accept federal dollars, you are making a commitment to continue to spend a certain amount of state resources for some years to come, and I can understand that state legislators would be reluctant to make that commitment."

Some state lawmakers hesitate to comply with the act because of budgetary uncertainty tied to fluctuations in federal funding.  others argue a "one-size-fits-all" approach to health care is not viable, and that states should be allowed to design their own systems.

"Let Texas make Medicaid rules that make sense for Texas, and let Rhode Island make Medicaid rules that make sense for Rhode Island," contends Thornberry, "State flexibility with a certain level of guaranteed funding that's predictable, but doesn't grow as fast as it has been going."

Some states have instituted what are called "automatic triggers," whereby the state can opt to reduce coverage if federal funding drops below a certain level.

Governor Rick Perry and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst have already said they will not expand the Texas Medicaid program, as directed by the Affordable Care Act.

To read the report for yourself or lean more about the potential local and statewide impact of the Affordable Care Act, follow the links attached to this story.