2013 Legislative Sesssion
3:25 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Perry, Cruz, Castro Bros. Face Off Over Medicaid Expansion (Update)

Update: The biggest Republicans in Texas stood side-by-side today and argued against expanding Texas Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said it doesn’t matter if the federal government has offered to cover the full cost of the expansion for the first three years and 90 percent thereafter.

“Many advocates of the expansion say that the federal government is providing free money,” Cruz said. “Well it’s not free money. It’s our money. It’s the money that the taxpayers in Texas and all over the country have contributed to. And our federal government right now has a national debt that’s larger than the size of our entire economy – 16 and a half trillion dollars.”

Meanwhile – some of the most well known Democrats in Texas said Medicaid expansion would lift the entire state. They included U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, his brother San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett.

Joaquin Castro said accepting Medicaid expansion would extend health insurance to a million Texas adults and 400,000 children.

“This is federal money that is going to be spent whether we opt into the program or not,” he said. “In other words, if we don’t reclaim our federal dollars that Texas taxpayers are paying, they’re going to go to other states.”

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year gave states the option to expand Medicaid, which provides health care for the poor. The expansion would extend coverage to U.S. citizens earning 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Currently, that would be about 31,000 dollars for a family of four. 

Original Post (9:04 a.m.): Today, two groups of Texas lawmakers pit themselves against each other in the battle over Medicaid expansion.

Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz will hold a discussion today, followed by a news conference on restating their opposition to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Additional participants include Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek, and members from the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank. Last month it released a report advocating for Medicaid reform, including tying Medicaid to asset tests.

Two hours later, brothers U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will hold a news conference calling on the need for Medicaid expansion in Texas.

In an op-ed published yesterday in the Dallas Morning News, Joaquin Castro argued Gov. Perry the "stands between millions of Texas families and health care coverage."

Both news conferences are being held at the Texas Capitol today: Perry's at 10:30 a.m. in the Governor's Reception Room, 2S.1;l the Castro brothers speak at 12:30 p.m. in the Speakers Press Committee Room, 2W.6.