Texas lawmakers are preparing to begin rolling back a controversial Obamacare repeal law, as a Republican senator from the state is pushing to kill a major expansion of Medicaid under President Donald Trump’s Affordable Care Act.
State Sen. John Whitmire, R-Fort Worth, told lawmakers Monday that he’s looking to eliminate or delay the expansion of the state’s health care program for the poor.
A similar move is being made by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has argued that the federal law’s expansion of coverage is unconstitutional.
“If you look at the state of Texas, we’ve been successful in changing the way we provide health care to our citizens,” Paxton said Monday, according to a statement.
“I’m committed to ensuring that we’re doing everything we can to ensure that this law is not overturned.”
But the Texas Tribune reported Monday that Paxton’s office is preparing to take a new tack with its new Medicaid expansion.
The new plan would extend coverage to about 5.5 million Texans who qualify under the Texas Health and Human Services Act, which was enacted in 2016.
That would be a dramatic change from the current Medicaid expansion that currently covers roughly 300,000 Texans, and would be the largest expansion since the program was established in 2013.
The expansion would extend eligibility to nearly half of Texas’ population, according the Texas Hospital Association, a health care trade group.
The state has already spent more than $2 billion expanding Medicaid, and the state estimates it will spend another $2.2 billion on the program over the next 10 years.
But Paxton and Whitmire’s plans differ in several key ways, according a report by the Texas Observer, a conservative news website.
In addition to changing Medicaid eligibility, the plans would eliminate a key provision in the law that was supposed to encourage more people to enroll in the program.
The Texas Health Insurance Program is designed to help people afford health care, but it also has become a vehicle for wealthy Texans to get health insurance coverage.
The plan proposed by Whitmire would eliminate the provision that allows Texans to pay a $2,500 deductible for the first month they sign up for Medicaid.
Whitmire said the elimination of that deductible is necessary because it could lead to people paying more for health care in the future.
The Texas Tribune’s report says that Paxtons proposed plan would also make it easier for wealthier Texans to obtain insurance coverage, while eliminating a requirement that insurers offer coverage to everyone regardless of income.
Whitmare said his plan would “save money” and the changes to Medicaid would also “help make the Texas health care system a better place.”
Whitmire and Paxton have said their plans would “keep the Texas Medicaid expansion solvent.”
The Texas Medical Association, which represents Texas health insurance providers, opposes the changes, calling them “misguided.”
The American Medical Association opposes the plan as well.
The AMA said it supports the idea of allowing Texas to expand Medicaid, but said the Medicaid expansion is “not needed to meet our health care needs.”
Whitmeyer said he is not opposed to expanding Medicaid coverage, but “the expansion of eligibility should be based on the needs of the population.”
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