| AUSTIN, Texas
AUSTIN, Texas May 26 The Republican-majority
Texas House and Senate on Sunday sent Governor Rick Perry a
proposal to prevent the state from expanding its Medicaid
program as outlined by President Barack Obama's healthcare
Perry, a Republican, notified the Obama administration last
summer his state would not expand Medicaid, which provides
healthcare for low-income people. He repeated his opposition in
an April news conference at which he called expansion "foolish."
The proposal, an amendment to a Medicaid-related bill, says
state health officials "may only provide medical assistance to a
person who would have been otherwise eligible for medical
assistance or for whom federal matching funds were available
under the eligibility criteria for medical assistance in effect
on December 31, 2013."
The House had tacked on the amendment after the Senate had
passed a version of the bill without the amendment. Members of
both chambers met to work out differences in the legislation.
That House-Senate conference committee chose to keep the
amendment, although its members tweaked the language to prevent
unintended consequences, said the bill's author, Republican
Senator Jane Nelson.
"This prevents the expansion of Medicaid," she said in a
Republican Representative Jeff Leach, the author of the
amendment, has said Medicaid expansion is too big of a decision
to be made without lawmakers' input.
Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obama's healthcare
overhaul but allowed states to opt out of a provision expanding
the Medicaid program.
Since then, 26 governors have indicated support for Medicaid
expansion, according to the Advisory Board Company, a consulting
firm that is tracking the issue.
Democrats have called on Perry to drop his opposition to
expanding Medicaid in the state, which has the nation's highest
percentage of uninsured people. About 24 percent of Texans are
The biennial legislative session is set to end on Monday.