As the new Republican majority searches for excuses not to take $700 million a year in annual federal support and provide health security for hundreds of thousands of Arkansans through Medicaid expansion, perhaps it’s time to print and distribute this article in the Texas Observer.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the former presidential candidate once beloved by 20 or so Arkansas House Republicans (and still being worshipped on Twitter by Radical Rep. Nate Bell of Mena), has said Texas won’t take Medicaid expansion. He’ll give up $100 billion over 10 years. It’s not about money only, the Observer writes:
If Texas doesn’t expand Medicaid, it will reject more than $100 billion in federal money the first decade, according to the state’s own figures. To get that sizeable federal reimbursement, the state would have to spend about $16 billion over 10 years. The governor’s refusal to take the federal government’s billions puts him in an awkward position opposite some of the state’s most powerful economic players: hospital chains, local governments and chambers of commerce. Given that political pressure, Perry might strike a deal with the Obama administration, or the Texas Legislature could push for a Medicaid expansion.
Beyond the economics and politics, lives are at stake. Lack of insurance will certainly mean more deaths. How many more? Approximately 9,000 a year, according to Dr. Howard Brody, director of the Institute for Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Brody calculated that figure by extrapolating from a recent Harvard University study published in The New England Journal of Medicine that found that states that expanded Medicaid saw a 6.1 percent reduction in the death rate among adults below 65 who qualified for the program. In a recent op-ed in the Galveston Daily News Brody wrote, “This means that we can predict, with reasonable confidence, if we fail to expand Medicaid . . . 9,000 Texans will die each year for the next several years as a result.”
OK, Texas is eight or so times bigger than Arkansas. So roughly figure Medicaid expansion would save the lives of more than 1,000 Arkansans a year. Arkansas’s eventual 10 percent contribution is too much to save 1,000 lives annually? Rep. Bell? Republican leadership?
Loyalty to Grover Norquist and the Kochs or saving Arkansas lives?