AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republicans in the Texas House voted Monday against expanding Medicaid in its current form, but left open the door to negotiations with the federal government.
The House Republican Caucus met behind closed doors and voted against expanding Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s current regulations, said Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, Republican chairwoman of the Public Health Committee. In return for spending $15 billion over the next 10 years on Medicaid, Texas would get $100 billion to provide health care to an additional 1.5 million poor people.
But Texas Gov. Rick Perry is adamantly opposed to enrolling more people in the joint federal-state health care program for the poor and disabled. As expected, Republican House members voted to back him.
Perry and House Republicans, though, remain open to expanding Medicaid if given a waiver from federal regulations in order to tailor the program to fit Texas’ needs. Democratic lawmakers have said they are talking to Obama administration officials about what kind of deal is possible.
“That was kind of a vote to say, ‘we’re going to continue conversations,’” Kolkhorst said of the caucus meeting. “We have so many doctors who won’t even see the current Medicaid population, so you’re actually promoting a system that hasn’t worked extremely well in the state of Texas. Instead, we’re working toward a Texas solution.”
Last week, federal officials granted a waiver to Arkansas that allows Medicaid expansion by subsidizing private health insurance, rather than using the state Medicaid program.