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Elizabeth Pagano is the editor of the Austin Monitor.
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Travis Commissioners encourage legislators to expand Medicaid
Wednesday, February 20, 2013 by Elizabeth Pagano
Despite some misgivings among the ranks, the
The court voted unanimously to approve a resolution “strongly encouraging” the Texas Legislature to expand coverage in accordance with the provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act of 2010. They voted 3-0 to approve the resolution, with Commissioners Ron Davis and Margaret Gomez absent.
“I’m aware of the situation at the state, and those legislators have to vote as they have to vote. But I think as a local elected official, my responsibility is to let them know what I think,” said County Judge Sam Biscoe. “They’re not shy about giving us advice, so I tend not to be shy about giving them advice.”
“Local dollar supplementation can get to be real, real painful,” said Biscoe. “My guess is that we do, probably, more than any other urban county in
Several Austin Interfaith leaders expressed thanks to the commissioners court for their action, as did Pamela Baggett from the National Alliance on Mental Illness in
“Bottom line, it just makes economic sense,” said Baggett. “The former state comptrollers’ office has said that
According to the resolution, the expansion would add $224.1 million in annual Medicaid funds to
The resolution also states “each dollar spent expanding Medicaid in
Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt said even the more conservative representatives on the Council of Urban Counties were “struggling between the political issues of an expanding federal government and the local issues of an increasingly burdened property tax.”
“There is a sense that when the state restricts coverage to the poor and the middle class, either through restricting specific services or foregoing federal match, it almost inevitably pushes cost down on to the property taxes of those locals that are willing to provide services to those in need,” said Eckhardt.
After some debate, Commissioner Gerald Daugherty ultimately voted in support, saying it was, “the right thing to do.”
“I am also going to be very, very cognizant of this thing being a little bit of something that scares an awful lot of people in this country,” said Daugherty, the court’s lone Republican. “I think this is Obamacare, and I don’t agree with Obamacare.”
Though he said that he agreed there was a need for more funding for care, especially for mental illness, Daugherty said that he feared the resolution would lead to the county spending “a lot more money,” and ultimately, the socialization of health care in the
“You are using the term Obamacare as a negative, not a positive,” said Baggett. “From that perspective, you are incorrect.”
Despite initially stating he could not vote in favor of the resolution, Daugherty softened his stance after some discussion. He said he was concerned some of the language in the resolution could provoke pushback in the legislature, even from people who are otherwise sympathetic to the need for more funding.
“It’s not like anyone is so inhumane that they don’t want to help people that really need help,” said Daugherty. “I think that Obamacare is very controversial in this country, but that’s not to say that all of the things that are in Obamacare aren’t really important. And I think they do need to be addressed.”
Austin Interfaith plans to hold a noon rally today at the Capitol in support of the Medicaid expansion. The rally is part of a statewide effort by clergy across
Next week, the
“I found very few things that I wasn’t supportive of, from a concept standpoint,” said Daugherty.
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