Suppose you learned your neighbor had won $3.1 billion in the lottery, and yet refused to go turn in his ticket. Surely, you would think he had lost his senses. Our state leaders are currently doing the exact same thing by refusing to accept $3.1 billion from the federal government for the purpose of expanding Medical Care for Texans. Right-wingers are fond of saying—mistakenly--that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) creates a set of “death panels.”
The real death panels created by the current system are those politicians who stand shoulder to shoulder and refuse to accept the benefits of the Affordable Care Act while millions of Texans go without adequate health care. Failing to improve our current system of medical delivery will cause catastrophic medical expenses for countless families, untold suffering, and countless deaths in Texas alone. Our senior citizens and children will be among the most numerous victims.
Ninety-three percent of the cost of expanding Medicare for Texans would be borne by the federal government for the next nine years. For three years, 100% of those newly enrolled in Medicare would be supported 100% by federal funds. To accept this largesse from the federal program would cost our state a mere 2.8% increase in our budget for state-supported health care.
It is amazing that conservative politicians blindly continue to attack Obamacare while purporting to want to save taxpayers money. The fact is that failure to adopt the Affordable Care Act, employing the current system, or no system, costs local taxpayers in Texas $2.3 billion in increased costs because health care has been largely pushed off on local governments.
Because of political games and posturing of our ex-governor and others, Texans are being forced to pay not once but three times. First, currently, Texas taxpayers are contributing to federal taxes which are going to benefit other states. Second, we are paying for locally supported health care through our cities and counties. Third, we are paying the price of ever increasing insurance costs when we purchase our own health insurance.
There is approximately $20 billion a year that occurs in uncompensated health care--mostly occurring at emergency rooms--which ex-governor Perry says are the places that are furnishing adequate medical care to the uninsured in our state. The billions of dollars of costs of care at emergency rooms are not eaten by hospitals. They simply add it to their overall charges when you or I enter the hospital on our insurance carriers …or it comes out of our hip pocket. This is to say nothing of the fact that emergency room care may prevent your death for a moment, but does little or nothing if you have some chronic disease that could be easily treated at a fairly low cost with regular care at a health clinic supported by the Affordable Care Act.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently published an analysis of what happened in Massachusetts. A plan similar to the current Affordable Care Act was implemented several years ago in that state which has reduced the cost of health insurance immeasurably and has reduced the cost of uncompensated health care by approximately 38%. This would mean a savings in Texas by approximately $6 billion. Imagine what we could do with $6 billion. Our leadership’s claim of refunding us taxes to the tune of $200 a year pales in comparison to what could be saved by the effective use of the Affordable Care Act in Texas.
Most politicians who scream Obamacare is the biggest job killer devised by any Democrat in many years are simply not telling the truth. Business leaders throughout Texas have urged our leadership to accept the $3.1 billion that is there for the asking. It will mean expansion of medical facilities throughout this state, better care, and more higher paying jobs in Texas.
While America has the best technology, better trained physicians, and the capability of delivering the best medical care in the world, our delivery system is flawed. If you are neither wealthy nor fortunate enough to have employer paid health insurance, our current delivery system of health care could kill you or destroy you financially.