Sebelius Open to Unique Texas Insurance Expansion

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said the federal government is open to working with Texas to expand Medicaid in a way unique to the state's needs, according to a report from The Texas Tribune.

Kathleen Sebelius official portraitAlthough federal policymakers are eager to discuss expanding health insurance for the poor in Texas, they aren't currently engaged in discussions with state officials, Secretary Sebelius said Thursday during a visit to Austin.

An expansion of the program would add more than 1 million Texans to Medicaid by 2017, with the federal government funding 100 percent of the additional cost for three years and not less than 90 percent after that. Texas currently has the highest uninsured population in the United States.

Although the federal government has designated $90 billion to extend the state's Medicaid program to more people, those funds won't reach Texas unless Gov. Rick Perry and state legislators approve the expansion, according to the report.

Gov. Perry has opposed the expansion, stating in an address to state lawmakers in April that the idea is "misguided, and ultimately doomed." He argued only three in 10 Texas physicians accept new Medicaid patients, which he fears would shrink if more newly eligible Medicaid patients flooded the market. Medicaid currently accounts for 25 percent of the state budget.

Additionally, Texas House representatives voted to ban the state legislature from expanding the Medicaid program in May. The state Senate passed a similar bill.

More Articles on Medicaid Expansion:
Report: Nationwide Medicaid Expansion Would Boost Enrollment by 18.1M
Auditor: Kentucky Needs More Resources to Handle Medicaid Expansion
Missouri Legislature Urged to Expand Medicaid

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