Aljazeera America: The human cost of Texas’ refusal to expand Medicaid

Aljazeera America: The human cost of Texas’ refusal to expand Medicaid

Rejecting ‘Obamacare’ has cost Texas over $8 billion and, advocates say, put poor people’s health at risk

By E. Tammy Kim

LAREDO, Texas—In mid-May, 20-year-old Anissa Rangel’s gums began to bleed. At first she assumed it was related to her gingivitis, but one morning, she woke up in the bedroom that she shares with three siblings and saw her gray nightshirt stained dark red across the shoulder. A month passed before she told her mother that something was wrong. By then, another symptom was visible: purple bruises on her arms and legs.

The ACA was intended to have built-in financing and incentives, with more federal money for insurance and less for uncompensated care, but the Supreme Court decision has thrown the law off balance. By choosing not to expand Medicaid, Texas has ensured an eventual reduction in federal support for safety net hospitals serving uninsured patients — Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) payments — with no commensurate increase in public health insurance reimbursement.

“One of the ways they fund the Medicaid expansion is, as Medicaid eligibility ramps up, it decreases that Disproportionate Share Hospitals fund,” explains Leo Cuello with the National Health Law Program. This became a huge problem after the Supreme Court case, he says. “No one thought that these two things could happen separately.” Read the full article here. »

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