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Perry has been a heated opponent of the health law. He refused to accept $100 billion in federal funding to expand Texas’ Medicaid program under Obamacare, which could have helped 1.5 million poor Texans afford basic health benefits. As recently as April, Perry essentially called the expansion a joke. “Seems to me April Fool’s Day is the perfect day to discuss something as foolish as Medicaid expansion, and to remind everyone that Texas will not be held hostage by the Obama administration’s attempt to force us into the fool’s errand of adding more than a million Texans to a broken system,” said Perry.
Now, Perry is seeking federal dollars for Texas’ Medicaid program anyway.
The Affordable Care Act grants state funding to expand a program called Community First Choice, which aims to improve the community-based medical services available to disabled and elderly Americans. The wildly popular program is administered through Medicaid and could prevent thousands of disabled and older Americans from being uprooted from their homes and into a long-term care facility for their treatments. Approximately 12,000 Texans could take advantage of it in the first year alone.
Perry spokespeople emphasized to Politico that the governor’s support for the program — and the Medicaid funds that make it possible — shouldn’t come as a surprise and doesn’t change his position on the Affordable Care Act.
“Long before Obamacare was forced on the American people, Texas was implementing policies to provide those with intellectual disabilities more community options to enable them to live more independent lives, at a lower cost to taxpayers,” said the spokesperson in a statement. “The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will continue to move forward with these policies because they are right for our citizens and our state, regardless of whatever funding schemes may be found in Obamacare.”
Advocates for the poor and disabled who support expanding Community First Choice under Obamacare were apprehensive to even talk about the program’s relation to the health law out of fear that Texas officials would back out of their funding bid over political considerations.
“[I]t would be worse than a shame if Texas’s moving ahead with [Community First Choice and Balancing Incentive Program] policies — both are from the ACA — was hurt as the result of scrutiny from a press inquiry,” one Texas advocate told Politico.