Texas legislature votes down even studying Medicaid expansion

by | May 14, 2021 | Policy, Texas Legislature

Like an 80’s horror villain, legislation in the Texas Capitol has a habit of coming back to life after it seems dead. However, in the case of Medicaid expansion, it does appear that any hope of passing in this legislative cycle is officially kaput.

An amendment to the state budget to expand Medicaid came close to passing in the house, but ultimately failed. This comes despite the fact that Texas leads the nation in the number of uninsured, with 1 out of 5 Texans lacking health insurance. Texas is also just one of twelve states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid.

On Wednesday during a debate on House Bill 1886, relating to the study of public safety programs, State Rep. Ann Johnson added an amendment to also examine the cost of failing to enact Medicaid expansion.

“I beg you on behalf of the highest rate of uninsured children in the nation, vote yes on this amendment and let’s get the knowledge. This is not only something that is inherently the right thing to do for our citizens, but it might be the right thing to do for our Texas economy,” said Ann Johnson on the House floor.

State Rep. Julie Johnson also spoke in favor of the amendment. 

“I do not understand how you can be a pro-life conservative and not support this initiative, because it is fundamental to the health care of so many people who need it,” Johnson said. “I strongly urge us to vote yes on this because we deserve the answers that this study will provide us to guide us in the future.”

The amendment to study Medicaid expansion was voted down by almost all House Republicans. State Rep. Lyle Larson, the lone Republican to vote for Medicaid expansion in the state budget, did vote in favor of the amendment.

Last month, a push to expand Medicaid in Texas gained momentum after the Biden administration rescinded a waiver for the state of Texas regarding a 10-year extension of the state’s Medicaid plan for not going through a full federal review. U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro was one of several Democrats to point out that instead of relying upon a federal waiver, Texas should just expand Medicaid.

State Senator Nathan Johnson authored Senate Bill 117, also known as the Live Well Texas Program, which would expand Medicaid. According to Nathan Johnson, if the state expanded Medicaid, 1 million more Texans would have access to health care, and it would add $2.5 billion to the Texas budget.

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A longtime writer and journalist, Jessica was thrilled to join the Texas Signal where she could utilize her unique perspective on politics and culture. As the Features and Opinion Editor, she is responsible for coordinating editorials and segments from diverse authors. She is also the host of the podcast the Tex Mix, as well as the co-host for the weekly SignalCast. Jessica attended Harvard College, is a onetime fitness blogger, and has now transitioned to recreational runner (for which her joints are thankful).

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