Yesterday, Rick Perry announced that Texas would remain the worst state in the union for healthcare by withdrawing from the Medicaid expansion and insurance exchange.
Texas was recently ranked worst in the country for health care delivery by the federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, scoring “weak” or “very weak” in nine of 12 categories. Perry’s office discounted the study as overly broad, and has argued that Texans’ real problem is personal health choices, not lack of health insurance.
More than 25 percent of Texans – 6,234,900 people – are uninsured, the highest rate in the nation. After five years of health reform, Texas would be able to insure 1,798,314 more Americans under the Medicaid expansion alone – more than any state in the nation. Setting up a state health insurance exchange would enable the remaining millions of uninsured Texans to purchase affordable health insurance. Thus, despite Perry’s claims, implementing the law would result in better patient protection and greater access to coverage.
Of course, according to the law, if a state refuses to set up an exchange, the feds will do it for them, so this is just an idle bit of a petulant tantrum from Perry. And much like the stimulus money that helped Perry balance the Texas budget, I'm sure Perry will take credit for any improvement in the state's healthcare system caused by the ACA.
Adding... Sarah Kliff wrote an informative piece about the history of right-wing states that refused to participate in healthcare expansions.