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Thu November 11, 2010
Perry Calls Dropping Medicaid "Good Idea"
By Shelley Kofler, KERA News
Dallas, TX – Governor Rick Perry says "it's probably a good idea" for Texas to pull out of the federal Medicaid program. Perry said that last night in Dallas during a stop to promote his new, get-tough-on-Washington book. KERA's Shelley Kofler says some state lawmakers are also discussing the option.
Governor Perry's book is Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington. In it he claims federal entitlement programs including Medicaid are bankrupting the country and states. Perry says states should design their own healthcare programs.
Perry: We know how to deliver healthcare to more people in a less expensive way than what the federal government does. I need more states need to stand up and say we don't want your strings attached. We don't want you down here telling us how to run our business.
Medicaid was created as part of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society Program. Every state has participated since 1982. No state has ever dropped Medicaid.
Medicaid provides healthcare for the poorest children, the disabled, pregnant women and those in nursing homes. The federal government contributes six dollars for every four Medicaid dollars Texas spends, and those millions would be lost if the state opts out of the program.
But conservative republicans in Austin are discussing it. State lawmakers face a budget hole in January that could top $20 billion dollars. Trimming expenses here and there won't close it, many have zero appetite for new taxes, and Medicaid costs are escalating.
Governor Perry says dropping Medicaid would save money.
Perry: I recommend we have a broad discussion about all of the ways states could better deliver healthcare services to their citizens. If opting out of Medicaid is one of them, which I think it is probably a good idea, but we need to look at all the options.
Reporter: If we opted out of Medicaid could Texas still take care of the children covered under Medicaid and the long term care patients?
Perry: If we are allowed to put the program into place you will see more people in the state of Texas who will have more coverage and frankly we'll save money at the end of the day as will the federal government.
Just how much Texas could save by leaving Medicaid is unclear. Some $8 billion state tax dollars are annually spent on the program each year. The state agency administering Medicaid is conducting a cost-savings study.
Meanwhile, Texas continues to have the most uninsured people in the country.