Sunday, November 14, 2010

Texas to Opt Out of Medicaid?

The very notion of opting out of one of the largest government health services program seems crazy on the face of it. No way, I would have said before November 2nd. But now that we know the count, and what the numbers are in state house and senate, it seems this, too, is possible.

In so-doing, Texas would be turning up its nose at $16.6 billion in federal dollars.

Rick Perry thinks it’s a fabulous idea.

So does State Rep Warren Chisum (R - Wackoville) who has said this:

“Too much of taking money with strings attached is just not good for the people.”

This has precedence. Last year Rick Perry passed on collecting $555 million in federal dollars to help pay unemployment to thousands of out of work Texans because the funds came with strings attached. So turning down sixteen billion dollars in federal money with strings attached seems not so big a reach.

Chisum said that his good ol’ buddy John Zerwas agrees with him and actually got some legislation passed last year to study the idea. Zerwas, who is a gas passer (an anesthesiologist) is probably the last one in the capitol building who wants to see Medicaid go bye-bye. My guess is that he wanted the study to get done so that these yayhoos could see what a truly bad idea the whole notion is.

That’s my guess, anyway. This is what he actually said:

“Zerwas said that looking seriously at opting out would be ‘a good exercise for us to go through’ but that it wasn't his study that put the idea on the table. ‘Opting out really comes from national and statewide think tanks’ such as the Heritage Foundation and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, he said.”
And Zerwas knows that opting out would be a disaster for the medical services industry in Texas, and not just for those who receive Medicaid benefits.

Because if you think the medical industry will just shrug its shoulders at the loss $16 billion and bring their collective belts in another notch or two, you have truly been drinking the kool-aid.

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