Gov. Rick Perry, in a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, today confirmed that Texas has no intention of implementing a state insurance exchange or expanding Medicaid as part of Obamacare. Any state exchange must be approved by the Obama Administration and operate under specific federally mandated rules, many of which have yet to be established. Expanding Medicaid would mandate the admission of millions of additional Texans into the already unsustainable Medicaid program, at a potential cost of billions to Texas taxpayers.
"If anyone was in doubt, we in Texas have no intention to implement so-called state exchanges or to expand Medicaid under Obamacare," Gov. Perry said. "I will not be party to socializing healthcare and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government.
"I stand proudly with the growing chorus of governors who reject the Obamacare power grab. Neither a "state" exchange nor the expansion of Medicaid under this program would result in better "patient protection" or in more "affordable care." They would only make Texas a mere appendage of the federal government when it comes to health care."
Gov. Perry has frequently called for the allocation of Medicaid funding in block grants so each state can tailor the program to specifically serve the needs of its unique challenges. As a common sense alternative, Gov. Perry has conveyed a vision to transform Medicaid into a system that reinforces individual responsibility, eliminates fragmentation and duplication, controls costs and focuses on quality health outcomes. This would include establishing reasonable benefits, personal accountability, and limits on services in Medicaid. It would also allow co-pays or cost sharing that apply to all Medicaid eligible groups - not just optional Medicaid populations - and tailor benefits to needs of the individual rather than a blanket entitlement.
Gov. Perry has consistently rejected federal funding when strings are attached that impose long-term financial burdens on Texans, or cede state control of state issues to the federal government. In 2009, Texas rejected Washington funding for the state's Unemployment Insurance program because it would have required the state to vastly expand the number of workers entitled to draw unemployment benefits, leading to higher UI taxes later.
In 2010, Gov. Perry declined "Race to the Top" dollars, which would have provided some up-front federal education funding if Texas disposed of state standards and adopted national standards and testing.
To view the governor's letter to Secretary Sebelius, please visit http://governor.state.tx.us/files/press-office/O-SebeliusKathleen201207090024.pdf.