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PRO: Expansion would give state billions in funding, thousands of jobs

By JR Ortega
Sept. 22, 2013 at 4:22 a.m.

John Kinnaird

For the first time in years, America Campuzano may get ahead of her diabetes.

That's because - come Oct. 1 - she'll be able to sign up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act's online marketplace.

But not everyone will be as fortunate as the 36-year-old Victoria resident, who has battled diabetes for 14 years.

Texans who make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level - about 2 million people - will not have access to the act's marketplace, and they also will not have access to Medicaid because Texas opted out of Medicaid expansion.

It's a gap of uninsured that Texas, along with 14 other states that have chosen to not opt into the expansion, have no way of assisting.

"They should reconsider (expanding). Health care is so important, and if you don't have money for it ..." she said, shrugging her shoulders.

Even with her pre-existing condition, she will have access, something Campuzano was not aware of.

Understanding the act and taking a stance as a city was something Waco City Councilman John Kinnaird and his fellow members did in the spring.

The city passed a resolution backing the act and the expansion, saying not expanding Medicaid would be a disservice and detrimental to a good portion of Waco's uninsured.

When Gov. Rick Perry said in July 2012 that state leaders would not opt into Medicaid, Kinnaird and the others still continued the mission.

"(Perry's decision) was a disappointment but not a shock," Kinnaird said. "We understand the politics of the matter."

As to Kinnaird's understanding, state leaders were worried because the federal government's act funding was not guaranteed for the long term.

"Why not take advantage of that, and let's see where we are after that," Kinnaird said. "I think it was important to show unity and continuity in our community."

Equally disappointed is Anne Dunkelberg with the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

The good news, she said, is that the marketplace will still insure several million people in Texas and across the U.S., like Campuzano.

"We have some important progress to make up for on the Medicaid side," she said.

The center supported the expansion of Medicaid, citing Perry's decision to opt out has denied Texas billions of dollars in federal funding and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Most of Medicaid is allocated to children, with few poor adults receiving any Medicaid assistance, Dunkelberg said, citing numbers from the U.S. Health and Human Services Commission.

Though Medicaid was not expanded, the act, she said, is a step in the right direction.

"It's just plain wrong for us to be offering taxpayer-funded help to people just above the poverty line and telling those below the line that we're not going to do anything for them," she said.

CON: State should be able to reform Medicaid on its own

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