Gov. Perry: States Should Have the Right to Create Health Care Solutions

September 02, 2009

LUBBOCK - Gov. Rick Perry today underscored his concerns about the impact on Texas of health care proposals under consideration by the federal government, and emphasized the need to pursue state-based solutions to health care reform. The governor spoke at a discussion hosted by the Lubbock Area Association of Health Underwriters.

"Cutting into a state's ability to apply local fixes to local problems stifles the sort of innovative solutions that states are best suited to develop," Gov. Perry said. "These one-size-fits-all health care proposals will cost taxpayers billions of dollars without significantly improving access to or treatment in our health care system."

Texas continues to seek state-based health care reform options. In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in July, the governor reiterated his request for a federal Medicaid waiver that would help transform health care in Texas from a heavy reliance on hospital-based care to increased access to primary and preventive care. The plan is centered on state-specific solutions to eliminate costly federal mandates, and use those resources to provide more low-income Texans with insurance, reduce expensive emergency room visits for basic care, and make it easier for the working poor to buy into employer-sponsored insurance. This reform waiver was originally sent to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in April 2008.

Current federal proposals include significant Medicaid expansions at the state level, individual and employer mandates to purchase and offer qualifying insurance plans, and federal takeover of some current state insurance functions such as rates and coverage exclusions.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has estimated that the House and Senate versions of the federal healthcare legislation could add $30 billion to $60 billion to the state budget, and would more double the number of Medicaid recipients in Texas.