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States’ Rights to Debt

photo: jmtimages via Flickr

Increasingly spectacular in his public pronouncements as the right strays ever farther from rational thought, Texas’ governor Perry has moved from suggesting he wants to secede to a threat to cut medicaid off from the state’s needy.   There actually has been study of the prospect authorized by the legislature.  Predictably,  it discovered a few problems, like most of us would.  While decent human beings would choose not to condemn poor folks to death, the study finds that the losses to medical facilities would be really fierce.

Up to 2.6 million Texans — many of them children — could become uninsured. And hospitals would still be required by federal law to treat medical emergencies, potentially adding billions of dollars in annual uncompensated care costs funded at the local level. Meanwhile, Texans would continue to pay federal taxes to support other states’ Medicaid spending, the report notes.

Texas would “lose billions each year in federal funds; billions of dollars in indigent health care costs would shift from the state and federal levels to local governments, public hospital districts, medical providers, and the privately insured; and 2.6 million Texas residents could lose health insurance,” the report states.

Still, the escalating Medicaid costs facing the state — up 170 percent in the last 11 years, and accounting for a quarter of the state budget — have far exceeded the growth in state tax revenue, inflation and population, and are unsustainable, the report notes. The HHSC report says the best solution is for the federal government to give states greater responsibility over program costs

Naturally, this report finds that the unsustainable health crisis individuals would face would be terrible – for the taxpayer and the medical community.

The U.S. being the only ‘advanced’ nation that submits to a for-profit medical system is not addressed by this report.   That our citizens are only a fall away from destitution doesn’t worry the Texas lege.  . . .

Poor health is an economic loss, whether it is seen as a loss to the well-off or to the needy individual.   Either way the problem is addressed by the state of Texas – by plucking the medicaid program and leaving the needy to depend on charitable activities, or by continuing to accept the funds from that Federal government off in D.C. – a crisis is at hand.

Naturally, the obvious answer of turning our national health system into one that actually promotes health is not  addressed.   The governor seems to think he’ll pull another bait-and-switch as he did with the stimulus.   Back then, he insisted he was refusing stimulus funds while all the time taking them eagerly for needs the state’s budget wouldn’t stretch to fill.  Sleight of hand will be a bit more sketchy when hospitals actually go under.

Perhaps the governor has in mind a foreign firm he can bring in, as with his vaunted Toll Road, that will be free to deal directly with that foreign power in D.C. – after we secede.

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.