Texas Dems and Medicaid Expansion

Democrats in Texas are hopeful that the state will expand Medicaid to cover millions, although Governor Rick Perry said Texas won’t broaden the federal program. Rather than striking down Obamacare, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the law constitutional but gave states the option of expanding Medicaid to carry it out. From the Texas Tribune:

Despite Gov. Rick Perry’s firm opposition to a key tenet of federal health reform — expanding the state’s Medicaid program for those with low incomes — Texas Democrats remain optimistic that the 2013 legislative session can yield a deal that brings in billions in additional federal dollars.

It will be a tough sell: No Republican lawmakers have gone on record supporting the Medicaid expansion, which would add an estimated 1.8 million Texans onto the joint state-federal health plan by 2022.

Some Democratic lawmakers have already proposed legislation that would help them circumvent Perry, or else produce a bipartisan compromise that might gain the Obama administration’s support.

In Medicare news, Politico reports that physicians face a two percent Medicare reimbursement cut, and they might face a larger one—27 percent—if Congress doesn’t fix the Medicare payment formula.

“Blunt cuts are not reform,” said Rich Umbdenstock, CEO of the American Hospital Association. “We’ve got to reform the health care system and cuts on top of cuts are not going to help. They’re just going to shift cuts once again.”

Gail Wilensky, who led Medicare and Medicaid for President George H.W. Bush, warned that “having this looming out year after year … must really wear on physicians who are actively involved in Medicare wondering what they’re doing being involved in, for them, such an unstable program.”

“All that’s being publicly discussed is reducing payments under the same dysfunctional payment system,” she added.