rick perry

Perry under pressure to accept Obamacare

by Stephanie Kirchgaessner, FT.com  |  published on April 1, 2013

Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, is facing pressure from fellow Republicans to drop his opposition to accepting billions of dollars in federal funds under the “Obamacare” reforms and extend health insurance to 1.5m of the state’s poorest citizens.

Mr Perry, a failed presidential candidate who has not ruled out running again in 2016, is on Monday expected to defend his decision to opt-out of a broad expansion of Medicaid, the government healthcare programme for the poor.

But that position is being challenged not only by public interest groups and the hospital industry, but by some Republicans in the state legislature. These lawmakers want to begin negotiations with the Obama administration to expand and privatise Medicaid in a way that could be acceptable to both conservatives and the US president.

According to an analysis by the state’s former budget estimator, expanding Medicaid would cost Texas $15bn over 10 years, but would open the door to $100bn in new federal funds over that period.

John Zerwas, a Republican in the state house, is pushing a legislative proposal that would allow the state’s health commission to reach a deal with the Obama administration to expand Medicaid under certain conditions.

Dr Zerwas, an anaesthesiologist, would like to see Texas follow the model of Arkansas, which reached a preliminary agreement with the White House to give all potential new Medicaid participants in that state the ability to buy heavily subsidised private insurance on a state exchange.

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