State News

Sep 26, 2013 7:10 PM by Associated Press

Official Warns Health Bill Limited Without Texas' Help

DALLAS (AP) - U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Texas for the fifth time in two months Thursday to tout the benefits of the federal health care overhaul, but she acknowledged that many poor, uninsured Texans will get no help without the cooperation of state Republicans who unyieldingly oppose the law.

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people of any state in the country, but top state officials have refused tens of billions of dollars offered by the federal government to expand Medicaid.

Unless officials change their mind, people who would have gotten health coverage under Medicaid will be left out, Sebelius said after an event in Dallas. Her hope, she said, is that officials will change their mind once Medicaid funding begins elsewhere in January.

Texans can still purchase health insurance in federal exchanges that open enrollment next week.

"The money starts to flow on January 1, 2014," Sebelius said. "That's when this federal deal would kick in. And every day, Texas would leave a portion of that money on the side of the road."

Top Texas Republicans continue to fight the Affordable Care Act three years after Congress passed it. Gov. Rick Perry says the overhaul is bad policy and the Medicaid expansion, even if it's mostly funded by Washington, would still hurt the state budget. The federal government will pay the full cost of new coverage until 2016, then phase down to 90 percent.

Perry has also asked the state insurance commissioner to adopt strict regulations for federal "navigators" trained to help people sign up for coverage.

Sebelius has touted the work of local officials and groups in Texas that are promoting the law. She went to Houston, Austin and San Antonio last month.

On Thursday, she sat next to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, both Democrats who said they would work hard to educate their residents and get them to enroll in exchanges.

About 500,000 people in Dallas County don't have health insurance, Rawlings said. He has challenged city council members to see who could sign up the most constituents. Dallas libraries and recreation centers will also distribute materials about the law.

"If that was happening with our drivers across this city, we would have a riot," Rawlings said. "This is a serious issue that we've all got to understand."

Jenkins compared the outreach work to last year's effort to fight mosquitoes amid a West Nile outbreak, joking about the sleep-deprived nature of the staff in both instances.

___

Follow Nomaan Merchant on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nomaanmerchant.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

»Comments

Top Videos

1 2 3 4

Submit News

Do you have a tip, information about a breaking news story, or a story idea for 6 Investigates? Contact the KRIS 6 News Desk at 361-884-6666 or send us an email.

Most Popular

KRISTV.COM is Social!


Click the icons above to receive News, Weather, and Sports alerts from KRISTV.COM!

Inside KRISTV.COM

Contact Us
Send us your feedback. We want to hear from you!
Photo Central
Look at photos and videos and share them!
KRISTV.COM Mobile Website
Get KRISTV.com on your mobile or PDA!
KRISTV.COM Mobile Apps
Get our mobile apps on your mobile or PDA!
Texas Lottery
See the latest winning numbers!
6 News Team
Read about your favorite KRIS-TV personalities!
FCC Online Public File
FCC Public File of Records, Reports, and more