The working poor in the state have the most to lose.
The health care reforms in Texas are currently focused on the debate as to whether or not the state wants to choose to expand its Medicaid program, as it was given the choice by the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
Many in the state earn too much for Medicaid but cannot afford medical insurance.
It is individuals and families in that situation that are at the very heart of the health care reforms by President Barack Obama. Though they would have expanded the coverage of Medicaid in every state, the 1.3 million in Texas who are uninsured may not have this opportunity after all. Republican Governor Rick Perry refuses to widen the reach of the program, saying that its expense is too great.
The health care reforms would have had the greatest impact in Texas.
This is because Texas is the state that has the largest percentage of uninsured individuals and families in its population. One out of every four Texans do not have any medical coverage. Many among them are considered to be within the working poor – those who are employed, but are still under the poverty line based on their earnings.
Perry is only one of several Republican state governors who have made the same or similar decisions regarding the lack of expansion of their Medicaid programs. While some say that their states cannot afford to offer this coverage to a larger number of people, others say that they have philosophical disagreements with it.
That said, Texas is already among the states that have Medicaid programs that are the most restrictive in the country. In order to be eligible for the program in Texas, one must be disabled, be a child, or be a family of three with an income of less than $2,256 per year.
Without the health care reforms to expand Medicaid, the working poor in Texas will have to continue their reliance on emergency rooms instead of primary care doctors in order to receive treatment. Emergency rooms are currently to most expensive treatment option. Data from the Texas Hospital Association has indicated that in 2010, uninsured patients in Texas cost the state’s hospitals $4.5 billion.