Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rick Perry Is Quietly Encouraging Texans to Sign Up for Obamacare

Rick Perry Is Quietly Encouraging Texans to Sign Up for Obamacare 

Published October 23, 2013 - 3:30pm

picture-544-1354629517.jpg Katie Singh
Burnt Orange Report

Governor Rick Perry has always been one of the Affordable Care Act's most vocal opponents. He's called it a "monstrosity," a "stomach punch to the economy," and a "felony." But that hasn't stopped him from telling Texans to sign up for health coverage from the law.

That's right — Rick Perry's administration is encouraging Texans to enroll in the ACA's health insurance exchanges.

As the Texas Tribune reported last week, Texas will soon be shutting down its high-risk insurance pool for residents with pre-existing conditions, pushing them to seek coverage in the federal insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act. According to the Tribune, "the state has deemed the high-risk pool obsolete, as the Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies participating in the federal marketplace...from denying coverage to Texans with pre-existing conditions." Governor Perry signed the bill abolishing the high-risk pool into law in June, and it will be shut down by the end of the year.

This is just the latest in a series of hypocritical moves by Governor Perry regarding the Affordable Care Act. Though he's called the law a "criminal act," Perry certainly has no problem accepting money from it. As we reported last month, Perry has accepted over $100 million in ACA grants, and was asking for even more to help expand a state program providing insurance to those with disabilities.

Perry's actions make it utterly impossible to take his position on the ACA seriously. The crux of his argument against the Affordable Care Act has been that it's better for states to control health policy than the federal government. But by accepting ACA grant money, and now by encouraging high-risk patients to enroll in insurance exchanges, Perry's actions have totally undermined his words. In accepting these parts of the ACA, he's essentially acknowledged that federal grants will enhance the state's existing health programs, and that the health exchanges will provide better coverage for people with pre-existing conditions than what the state has now.

Perry's actions confirm what policy experts have known since the law was passed — it's a step forward for Texans. Stacey Pogue of the Center for Public Policy Priorities told the Texas Tribune she "think[s] that people are going to have many more options and many better options in the marketplace than they do in the health pool today."

Texans in the high-risk pool currently pay twice the market rate for health coverage, but they will be able to find much cheaper options in the health insurance exchanges. The ACA's tax subsidies will also make coverage more affordable. In addition, the insurance plans available in the exchanges will expand the level of care people with pre-existing conditions can receive, "as they must cover 'essential health benefits,' some of which, such as maternity care, aren't [currently] covered in the pool."

So, the next time you hear Rick Perry call the Affordable Care Act an "attack on freedom" or some other hyperbole, remember that even he doesn't really think that. Perry's presidential ambitions mean he'll never admit it, but he's repeatedly accepted parts of the Affordable Care Act as good for Texas. In doing so, he's not only recognized that federal assistance can strengthen state programs, but he's also proven himself to be a Texas-sized hypocrite.

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