In a move that surprised exactly no one, Rick Perry announced Monday that Texas will not create a health insurance exchange nor expand Medicaid.
“If anyone was in doubt, we in Texas have no intention to implement so-called state exchanges or to expand Medicaid under Obamacare," Perry said in a statement. " I will not be party to socializing healthcare and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government."
The U.S. Supreme Court decision says that states cannot be punished for not expanding Medicaid, the Texas Tribune 's Emily Ramshaw reported. However, the federal government will step in to make an "Orbitz-style online insurance marketplace for consumers" if a state chooses not to.
Perry took to Fox News to elaborate on what he said in his Monday letter (PDF) to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Perry slammed last week's federal report that ranked Texas dead last for health care services, holding that the state has the "finest healthcare in the world" with facilities such as M.D. Anderson or UT Southwestern.
"The idea that this federal government to somehow pick and choose to say that Texas has the worst healthcare system in the world is just fake and false on its face," Perry said on Fox News.
If put in place, the law will "bankrupt the state of Texas," Perry maintained, advocating for the federal government to instead deliver block grants to the states so they can manage their own affairs. "If we can make those decisions in Austin Texas and at the local level, we'll best deliver health care to our citizens," he said.
Creating a health care exchange and expanding Medicaid "would only make Texas a mere appendage of the federal government when it comes to health care," Perry said in a statement.
Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña called Perry's decision "both cruel and negligent" in a statement.
No person with a speck of intelligence would turn down billions in federal dollars that would be a boon to our economy and help Texans. But then again this is Rick Perry. Rick Perry could’ve brought billions in federal dollars to Texas, reduced the rate of the uninsured and improved the quality of life for Texans. ... Rick Perry’s Texas solution is to let Texans stay ill and uninsured. That is not a health care plan.
Arlene Wohlgemuth, Executive Director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, found much to celebrate in Perry's announcement:
"If the federal government wants to promote access to health care for low-income Texans, it should block-grant Medicaid to the state, so that we can develop a program that meets Texas’s needs – not D.C.’s aspirations. If the federal government wants to promote access to health insurance for all Texans, it should step back and allow an individual market in health insurance to develop."