Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Federal money for health care ...

As I make my rounds and talk politics with Southeast Texas citizens, I am regularly reminded of the Beaumont Independent School Board refusing the opportunity to recoup $2 million when the district’s electrician, as a part of a criminal plea bargain, agreed to forfeit $3 million--and the U.S. Attorney’s Office made it rather clear that $2 million of the three was the BISD’s for the asking.  Most people I talk to about the subject say that the choice to forego the $2 million was mind-boggling at best and irresponsible at worst.  Citizens and patrons of the school district are left with only the frustration of seeing their hard earned tax dollars spent elsewhere.

But BISD’s outlandish fiasco is “chump” change compared to what has happened in this state in health care.  Our governor and other leaders have turned their back on the opportunity to recoup $10 billion in tax dollars, which certainly could be used in Texas.  The Affordable Care Act provision would have provided the state with $9.6 billion to provide health care for needy Texans.  Perry and others turned the significant amount down and requested a like amount be furnished to Texas to be spent at the discretion of our governor.  Perry even turned down an effort by a few Republican legislators to work a compromise whereby Texas would have received the $9.6 billion with fewer strings attached.  Perry seems to maintain even yet that Texans have great health care options.

The facts are that Texas ranks 36 out of the 50 states in health care opportunities.  There are more Texans without health care than citizens of any other state.  It is estimated that over two million people living in Texas do not have adequate health care.  The sad part of this is that most of the two million are children.  The unfathomable option of turning our backs on $10 billion worth of tax money, only to see it spent in other states, does not make sense to me.  It appears irresponsible where there is such a need that Texas’ leadership refuses to take advantage of an opportunity to provide adequate health care for many Texans.

Refusing to accept the federal funds also will have an adverse impact on the economy of Texas.  Even a majority of health care providers in Texas urged the governor to accept the federal funds.  Without some adequate provision for health care to be furnished to needy Texans, those of us who provide insurance for our needs, or pay at the cash window at the hospital, will continue to bear the burden of uninsured health care furnished for many Texans.

It appears that what Governor Perry alluded to in making the outlandish statement that Texas has a great health care system is health care at the emergency room.  Hospitals are required to not turn away people in serious need of immediate health care when they appear at emergency rooms.  However, this cannot be considered an adequate health care option.  If your child happens to suffer from something like juvenile diabetes and has an episode launching him or her into a diabetic coma, the emergency room would handle the immediate effects of such an emergency; but you can forget long-term care which would improve the quality of life for such a child.  It is a fact that the emergency room is the most expensive location for health care and in the long run does not provide adequate health care.

As I have stated before in this column, Texas--with all of its medical resources--does represent the Cadillac of advanced technology and medical care.  Unfortunately, too many Texans are not allowed to take the ride.

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