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Rick Perry announces Texas opting out of Medicaid expansion

July 09, 2012|By Morgan Little | This post has been updated, as indicated below.
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry. (LM Otero / Associated Press )

WASHINGTON -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry, joining with several other Republican governors, said Monday that he would not expand Medicaid programs, taking advantage of one element of the Supreme Court’s ruling last week that upheld the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate but also allowed states to opt out of the law's Medicaid expansion.

“We in Texas have no intention to implement so-called state exchanges or to expand Medicaid under Obamacare,” Perry said in a statement. “I will not be party to socializing healthcare and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government.”

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Perry condemned the “Orwellian-named” Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“Medicaid is a system of inflexible mandates, one-size-fits-all requirements, and wasteful, bureaucratic inefficiencies. Expanding it as the PPACA provides would only exacerbate the failure of the current system, and would threaten even Texas with financial ruin,” he said.

"In 2014, consumers in all fifty states will have access to an Exchange where they can purchase quality health insurance and get tax credits to make that coverage more affordable. We will continue to work with states to ensure they have the flexibility and resources they need to implement the Affordable Care Act," a DHHS spokesman said in response to Perry's remarks.

Other prominent Republican governors, including Florida’s Rick Scott, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, have previously declared their states would opt out of President Obama’s healthcare law.

“Neither of these major provisions in ObamaCare will achieve those goals, and since Florida is legally allowed to opt out, that’s the right decision for our citizens,” Scott said in his own announcement.

“We’re going to do everything we can to elect Mitt Romney, to repeal this bad law and then replace it with more patient-centered healthcare reform that puts patients in control,” Jindal said.

The call for Romney’s election is doubly important for governors choosing to ignore the law’s optional provisions, because unless the former Massachusetts governor is elected and follows through with his pledge to repeal his predecessor’s reforms, states must comply with the law in 2014.

Perry, who ran against Romney in an unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination this year, is no stranger to the anti-Affordable Care Act camp, and labeled the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding it “a stomach punch to the American economy.”

Healthcare in Texas is currently deemed “weak” for a number of reasons by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a branch of the DHHS. Texas also boasts the highest percentage of uninsured residents in the country, at 27.6%.

morgan.little@latimes.com

@mlittledc

[For the Record, 1:43 p.m. PST  July 9: This post has been updated with the DHHS response to Perry's announcement.]

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