It's no secret that a majority of Republicans aren't happy with President Obama's new health care bill. So, it may come as no surprise that some Republican lawmakers in Texas are proposing an unprecedented solution to the state's estimated $25 billion budget deficit. The solution? Dropping out of the federal Medicaid program.
According to the Texas Tribune, far-right conservatives are offering that possibility. While, moderate Republicans are looking at it behind closed doors. The party's advisers on health care policy say it is being discussed more seriously than ever.
Local State Representative Warren Chisum told the Tribune, "With Obamacare mandates coming down, we have a situation where we cannot reduce benefits or change eligibility."
Chisum who recently entered the race for speaker of the Texas House also said the system is bankrupting our state. "We need to get out of it. And with the budget shortfall we're anticipating, we may have to act this year."
A conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, estimates Texas could save $60 billion between 2013 and 2019 by opting out of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). By doing that the state would drop coverage for acute care but continue to fund long-term care services. A study on the effect of ending the state's participation in the federal match program is expected to be released sometime between now and January by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The Medicaid and CHIP services here in Texas currently has 3.6 million children, people with disabilities, and impoverished enrolled in the programs.
The program currently costs Texas $40 billion every two years, with the federal government footing 60 percent of the bill. The state could end up paying more, under the federal health care reform, millions of addition Texans will be eligible for Medicaid.
"Texas and other states simply won't be able to meet that financial obligation -- I think that's one of the the fallacies of the Obama health bill is just that it probably can't work from an economic stand point," said State Rep. John Smithee.
State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, who chairs the Senate Public Health Committee, told the paper that dropping out of Medicaid is worth considering - but only if it makes fiscal sense without jeopardizing care. She also said she wants to know if Medicaid enrollees could be served more cost efficiently in a state-run program.
We spoke with Chisum Monday and he said, they wouldn't leave those who need Medicaid without coverage.
"It's not that we're going to leave anybody without coverage, it's just that we are are going to take a very hard look at being able to replace that with a program with less red tape and more money to the bottom line . "
What do you think, if Texas lawmakers can find a better solution for providing health care should Texas opt out of the federal Medicaid program?