The Affordable Care Act simply offers states a deal too good to refuse in insuring many low-income adults who cannot afford insurance.
During the first three years, the federal government would pay for the entire cost of the expansion. Then, the state's cost would be capped at 10 percent. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission estimates the 10-year cost to Texas would be $15.6 billion, with $100 billion paid by the federal government.
Some 1.8 million could benefit from such an expansion.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer gave the states an out from expanding Medicaid to cover adults at 133 percent of the federal poverty level. It upheld the law but also removed the federal government's ability to punish states that fail to expand Medicaid.
Gov. Rick Perry quickly proclaimed that Texas wouldn't expand Medicaid. Legislators are trying to move the governor off that position.
Straus appears to be one of them. In an interview with the Express-News, he said, it's time to "get our heads out of the sand" to find alternatives that would bring the same federal dollars to Texas as would Medicaid expansion
Clearly, some in the Texas GOP are not letting their obvious distaste for Obamacare get in the way of Texas interests. This is called leadership.
The overarching goal in any flexibility bargained with the federal government should be to get insurance coverage to as many Texans as possible.
And using this "flexibility" to shepherd low-income Texans to private insurance might be workable. But the goals here should be quality of coverage no less than what would be offered in expanded Medicaid. And out-of-pocket expenses must not be more.
Longview News-Journal. March 12, 2013.
Silly snits: They really know how to act better — we think
In important legislative news this past week from our nation's capital, we learn U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert filed a budget resolution that would keep President Barack Obama from playing golf until the president restores tours of the White House.
And that exclamation of frustration is aimed at Gohmert and Obama.
Sometimes, it seems the people we elect to serve us go out of their way to be silly. This would be one of those instances.
Obama first, because his action prompted Gohmert's. The president stopped White House tours for the duration of the sequester saying he wanted to avoid overtime that might be caused for the Secret Service.
Oh, brother. Wait, we said that already.
This is obviously a slam at Congress, and particularly the House of Representatives, because that is where most visitors get their "tickets" to take the White House tour. This little bit of a snit from Obama is silly, and it makes people realize just how petty politicians can be sometimes.
But wait! If we needed more proof, along comes Gohmert, who wants to take away the president's golf balls. Gohmert's resolution is that the president cannot use government resources to fly to play golf. We suppose our representative's reasoning is that if tours cause overtime, those golfing trips will, too. That's hard to debate.
Gohmert's resolution wouldn't bother us so much if it was not intended to be just as whiny and nitpicking as the president's tours cancellation. Both decisions sound as if they could have been made on a playground rather than the hallowed halls of democracy.
Neither step does a single thing to push the country toward a resolution of the sequestration problem. If anything, this snit might harden a few hearts. Not in Washington, of course, because we're pretty sure the brains in Washington are as hardened as they can be.
The president should resume the tours and Gohmert should resist the urge, difficult as it will be for him, to be such a snit.
Really, gentlemen, we think both of you know better than to act like this. Please prove to us that you do.
Corpus Christi Caller-Times. March 10, 2013.
No more excuses for delaying Keystone pipeline
The Obama administration has run itself out of excuses for delaying the Keystone XL pipeline any further. Its own State Department has found that piping the dirty Canadian tar sands oil would cause no significant environmental damage.
That was after Nebraska's governor approved a new route through his state that solved concerns about cutting through an especially environmentally sensitive area.
So, all that's left for President Obama now is to approve the pipeline and get out of the way of economic progress and U.S. energy independence, or further confirm the widespread suspicion that he wants to promote alternative energy by sabotaging the oil industry. The clock is ticking ...
Unfortunately for Obama and alternative energy evangelism, sabotage is about what it would take. The discoveries of huge deposits in South Texas and elsewhere on the continent have pretty well disproved the concept of peak oil — i.e., that the world has only so much of it, that we've found most of it and we're on the path to running out of it. On Thursday, at the second Eagle Ford Consortium conference in San Antonio, Marathon Oil CEO Clarence Cazalot forecast American oil independence in a decade — if government regulation continues not to go berserk.
Tar sands oil is a dirtier commodity that causes more greenhouse emissions. But stopping the proposed 2,000-mile pipeline won't stop its production. To the contrary, all it'll do is prevent the environmentally safest, cleanest ways of transporting and refining tar sands oil.
The State Department found that not building the pipeline would cut Canadian tar sands production a whopping 0.4 percent by 2030. That's because there are other ways to bring it to market and the Canadians will use them.
Those ways are less environmental than a pipeline. And so are the destinations, not just because they're farther away. The more tar sands oil that's refined here to U.S. environmental standards, the better. Put another way, the less of it that goes to China and other places where environmental concerns take a much more distant back seat to industrial expansion, the fewer greenhouse gases produced worldwide.
South Texas refineries proved themselves adept at handling heavy, sour crude from Venezuela and lately have been retooling for the super-light, super-sweet stuff from the Eagle Ford Shale. Either way, they've done it to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard. If someday it makes sense for them to refine tar sands oil, count on them to do it to an industry-leading, government-approved standard.
Needless to say, building the pipeline involves thousands of jobs and not building it means saying no to those jobs and to a friendly neighboring country with similar, compatible economic and geopolitical interests. Give the Canadians credit for patience. The pipeline project was first proposed in 2005.
If Obama wants to do something good for the environment as well as the economy, he needs to approve this pipeline. He should keep in mind that energy independence is good for the environment because it prevents environmentally hazardous activities such as war.