Health care could take up largest part of state budget

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Money for health care could take up the largest part of Texas’ state budget this year, with much of it directed at Texas Medicaid, government health insurance for the poor, disabled and children. The federal government offered to pay the majority of funding if Texas expands Medicaid to more people. But conservative lawmakers say it is too costly and wasteful.

This stalemate has left more than one million people without health care coverage.

For years, Nathan Robinson tried to rebuild his life following an on-the-job injury. He still has scars from his surgery, and his life post-surgery has been a struggle.

“When depression takes hold on you, it’s not easy. We’ve seen that with Robin Williams,” said Robinson. “He’s a man that had money and depression still got to him, so imagine how much impact it has on someone who’s poor.”

He’s one of the many Texans caught in the Medicare gap: Non-disabled, low income adults who aren’t covered by Texas Medicaid, but doesn’t make enough for health care subsidies. More than 100 people rallied at the Capitol urging lawmakers to take a deal, accepting nine federal dollars for every one state dollar to expand health coverage to people like Robinson.

Earlier this year, Texas lawmakers asked Washington for flexibility in Medicaid for cost sharing, price controls, and reform. Washington won’t negotiate.

“My story is unique but it’s not much different from anyone else in my same situation who’s living under the poverty line, who’s been injured, but really, really wants to contribute to society,” said Robinson.

And so the staring contest will continue between Austin and Washington, with more than a million Texans caught in the middle. Texas has by far the largest number of uninsured adults. If the state expanded Medicaid, one in five Texans would get services from the government program.

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