Medicaid Expansion – When, Not If

By Honorable Garnet Coleman 

When Republican states decided not to expand Medicaid, they didn’t hurt President Obama or the federal government; they hurt themselves. A growing number of Republican states are beginning to figure that out, according to this report by Kaiser.

Medicaid Expansion has been one of the biggest successes of the Affordable Care Act. Over 6 million Americans gained coverage through Medicaid since October 1 of last year. That lessens the burden on state and local governments as well as hospitals by turning what was previously uncompensated care into compensated care. The expansion provides millions of Americans with the security and dignity of knowing that they can bring their children to the doctor if they get sick or be covered if they themselves fall ill.

Texas has the highest uninsured rate and the highest number of uninsured children in the country, so we need Medicaid Expansion more than any other state. The failure to expand the program here will cause real harm. It will of course deny coverage to those who otherwise would have qualified for the program, but it will also harm Texas businesses and Texans with insurance.

Many Republicans like to say that “anyone can get care in the Emergency Room.” While this isn’t exactly true (you can’t use the E.R. to manage your diabetes or breast cancer, for example), what is true is that someone has to pay for uncompensated visits to the E.R., and that cost is generally borne by the hospitals and passed on to those who can pay. By failing to expand Medicaid, Texas hospitals, local governments, and taxpayers will continue to bear the burden of providing inefficient care to an unnecessarily large uncompensated population.

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