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Perry Not Backing Off Opposition to Medicaid Expansion

Real Clear Politics - Scott Conroy
February 22, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas -- Gov. Rick Perry, who authored the memorably titled book “Fed Up!” before launching a presidential run in 2011, is again demonstrating his skeptical view of a federal government that comes bearing gifts for his state -- even as many of his Republican colleagues have changed their tune.

On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott became the latest GOP governor to say he will accept a provision in the national health care reform law that expands Medicaid dramatically in his state. But Perry remains steadfast in his refusal to accept the federal funding.Proponents of taking the money have characterized

Perry’s decision as reflecting an unreasonable obstinacy. Texas has the nation’s highest rate of uninsured residents, after all, and the proposed Medicaid expansion would cover more than 1 million additional people.

But during a speech in Washington on Friday that was intended to draw attention to his state’s economic strength, Perry was repeatedly heckled by organized groups of protesters -- to no avail, however, as the nation’s longest-serving governor drew a clear line in the sand on the issue.

“Let me go on the record here for a moment: We’re not going to be expanding Medicaid in Texas,” he said to cheers from the partisan Republican crowd on hand, according to the Houston Chronicle. “The reason is because it’s a broken system. It’s moving our state -- and I’ll just speak to our state -- towards bankruptcy if we expand the current program.”

Earlier this week, protesters outside the Texas State Capitol waved signs and gave speeches decrying the governor’s refusal to accept the funding -- a decision that the Supreme Court ruled last year was up to individual states to make.

Supporters of Medicaid expansion in Texas have questioned Perry’s motives in declining to make what they consider to be an easy decision that would boost revenue in the state, in addition to getting more people insured.

“From a public policy position, and for investing in the future of our state, there has never been a more obvious decision,” said Matt Glazer of the liberal-leaning group Progress Texas. “That being said, Rick Perry is clearly running for president again, and he’s doing everything he can do to make that possible.”

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