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TPR: Congressional Democrats Try To Go Around Conservative State Leaders To Expand Medicaid In Texas, Elsewhere

June 17, 2021

cover now

Congressional Democrats have finally found a way to expand Medicaid in the dozen states that haven’t yet done so. They will go around conservative state government leaders who have rejected the prospect for a decade and instead work with local leaders.

Representatives from 12 states announced outside the U.S. Capital that the Cover Outstanding Vulnerable Expansion-eligible Residents (COVER) Now Act would give dollars directly to local governments and hospitals that want to help expand Medicaid.

Medicaid expansion was rolled out with the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and offers the government health plan to people making up to 138% percent of the national poverty line. Until 2017, 100% of the expansion was paid for by the federal government. Since then, states that expanded are responsible for 10% of the cost.

Texas rejected expanding Medicaid to the working poor again this legislative session. The COVER Now Act will go around those conservative leaders.

“I think you can't give the state ideological Republican leaders enough money to do this,” said Lloyd Doggett, (D-TX) who authored the bill. “That's why we just have to go around them and rely on effective local and willing leaders to do the job that we need in Texas.”

Texas leads the country in uninsured people with an estimated 5.2 million lacking basic health coverage. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation expanding medicaid in Texas could reach more than one-third of those uninsured.

The bill allows the federal government to directly fund these local hospitals and governments in a “demonstration” program that lasts five years and can be reapplied for. Governments that elect to take the money would qualify for 100% of Medicaid funding for three years and then it would fall to 95%.

The move comes as state legislators are preparing for multiple special sessions to address congressional redistricting and controversial voter laws.

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