AUSTIN – The Texas Public Policy Foundation criticizes yesterday’s U.S. House passage of legislation that enables the federal government takeover of America’s health care system.
“The legislation that Congress has sent to the White House will have disastrous consequences on Texans’ access to quality health care,” said The Honorable Arlene Wohlgemuth, executive director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “We will work with Texas policymakers to explore all available options to protect our state from the fiscal damage and other harmful consequences of this law going into effect.”
Among the options the Foundation urges state policymakers to consider:
* Litigation challenging the constitutionality of the law. “Prominent legal scholars have identified constitutional defects in at least four major aspects of the legislation,” Wohlgemuth said. “The provision forcing Americans to purchase health insurance is antithetical to both the U.S. Constitution and the American tradition of individual liberty.”
* State legislation to protect, improve, and lower the cost of Texans’ health care. “Dozens of states are pursuing legislation to protect their residents from the bill’s requirement that individuals purchase health insurance, and the Texas Legislature should do likewise,” Wohlgemuth said. “The Legislature should also allow Texans to purchase health insurance plans regulated by any other state, create a Health Savings Account option in all state employee and retiree health plans, and allow non-physician medical professionals to provide care to the extent of their medical training.”
* Alternatives to continued participation in the federal Medicaid program. “The runaway costs in Medicaid are at the core of Texas’ current budget problems, and this new federal law will increase Texas’ Medicaid caseload by 50 percent, putting one-fourth of Texas’ population into this government program,” Wohlgemuth said. “The federal government has no right to co-opt state budgets in the manner that it is with Medicaid. The Texas Legislature should study fiscally responsible alternatives to the current Medicaid program.”
* A supplementary request that state agencies identify additional budget cuts beyond the 5 percent reductions previously solicited by the state leadership. “Even if Congress provides funding for the first few years of expanded Medicaid eligibility, Texas will eventually bear the full costs of Medicaid expansion, while other provisions of the bill will immediately increase the state’s cost to provide care for our current Medicaid recipients,” Wohlgemuth said. “The state has estimated the Medicaid provisions will cost at least $24.3 billion in additional general revenue over the first 10 years. Legislators need to help the public understand how deeply we will need to cut public education, transportation, and public safety to pay for this unfunded federal Medicaid mandate.”
The Honorable Arlene Wohlgemuth is Executive Director and Director of the Center for Health Care Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin. She served 10 years in the Texas House of Representatives, specializing in health care issues.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit free-market research institute based in Austin.