Expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would help put a substantial dent in the number of uninsured Texans, a new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) shows.
State leaders have been strongly opposed to Medicaid expansion, however.
This session, Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) introduced House Bill 565, which would expand Medicaid under certain conditions and protected essential health benefits.
TMA President Doug Curran, MD, testified in support of HB 565, now pending in committee.
“House Bill 565 provides Texas its own potential roadmap, combining elements of public and private sector reforms that together could pave the way to dramatically reduce Texas’ rate of uninsured,” Dr. Curran told lawmakers. “If using Medicaid dollars as the means for expanding coverage is unacceptable, Texas should pursue a federal waiver or some other private coverage option to draw down available federal funds and let Texas design a system that works for Texas.”
Texas currently leads the nation in the number and percentage of uninsured adults younger than 65: almost 5 million – or about 17 percent of the population.
However, 1.4 million of those uninsured adults would become eligible for health coverage if the state were to expand Medicaid coverage under the ACA, the report shows.
Prior to the ACA, Medicaid eligibility was limited to specific low-income groups, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, children, pregnant women, and some parents. The ACA expanded Medicaid coverage to nearly all adults with incomes up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level ($17,236 for an individual in 2019).
Texas is one of 14 states that have not expanded Medicaid coverage.
Nationwide, 4.4 million adults would become eligible for Medicaid if all 14 states adopted the expansion, the KFF report says.
In Texas, more than half of the 1.4 million newly eligible Medicaid recipients (758,000) would be women, the report shows. More than 80% are in a family with at least one worker, and more than half (54%) live below the poverty line.