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Health Care Reform Could Be a Boon (and Bust) to Texas

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As contentious a political football as federal health care legislation has become, there’s evidence that so-called “Obamacare” may in fact provide a needed benefit to residents of the Lone Star State. One that will come at a huge financial cost, critics argue.

According to a new study by the RAND Corporation, should the health care laws come into full effect, some 5 million Texans are projected to get new health insurance coverage. And as all those residents are insured, the resulting increase in state health care spending could rise as much as 10 percent.

Those increases, the study suggests, would largely be the result in a jump in spending connected to rising Medicaid costs. Those recipients of new health care coverage would be covered by a mixture of Medicaid and a state health insurance exchange, though plans for said exchange are severely bogged down in the Legislature at present.

The study covered five states and was sponsored by the Council of State Governments.

Other findings, as reported by the Texas Tribune:

? As a result of health care reform, the percentage of Texans with health insurance would grow from the current 72 percent to 94 percent. Projections suggest that 1.4 million non-elderly Texans would remain uninsured, versus as many as 6.5 million if health care legislation were not to pass.

? Nearly 18 percent of the non-elderly in the state would receive health insurance through a state insurance exchange.

? Enrollment in Medicaid would grow by approximately 80 percent in five years, adding about 2.7 million to the ranks.

? Costs per year to the state would jump $580 million by 2016 and $2.8 billion by 2020; add the increases between 2010 and 2020 together and the sum would reach nearly $10 billion.

The study’s results have been criticized as being alarmist and using models developed long before the legislation even passed; others, including the Texas Public Policy Foundation, say they agree with the projections.