Austin Chronicle: Texas Bill Gives Localities a Way Past State Obstruction to Medicaid

More than a decade after the Affordable Care Act’s passage – and three U.S. Supreme Court rulings upholding the national health care law, the most recent just a few weeks ago – 12 states continue to hold out on expanding Medicaid coverage for millions of lower-income residents, despite the ACA’s guarantees of federal funding for nearly all of the costs involved. However, the leaders in non-expansion states – of which Texas is the largest – might soon have little say in the matter. Under new legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, localities could circumvent obstructionist state governments and apply directly to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Ser­vices to develop expansion programs for their communities.

House Resolution 3961, dubbed the Cover Outstanding Vulnerable Expansion-Eligible Residents (COVER) Now Act, is co-sponsored by all but three of the 44 Democratic members of Congress whose states have not expanded Medicaid, including all of Doggett’s Texas colleagues. In the wake of the 87th Texas Legislature’s rejection this year of bipartisan efforts to pass measures, tailored to Texas, that would expand coverage, Doggett sees his bill as a needed alternative to “hardcore, Repub­lic­an, right-wing ideology” for the millions of uninsured Texans. “We’re trying to approach this not as a challenge to the state,” Doggett, who chairs the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, told the Chron­icle. “Rather, to say: You’ve got your hardcore ideology, you’re not going to [expand Medicaid] at the state level, just give us an alternative to let those localities who want to make the investment and protect their neighbors. Give them that opportunity.”

Read the full story here.
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Author: Beth Sullivan

Publisher: Austin Chronicle

Date: July, 2 2021

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