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Texas Gov. Perry Says No To Medicaid Expansion

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Any doubt, and there probably wasn't much, that Texas would reject an expansion of Medicaid under the big federal health law was dispelled today.

The Supreme Court decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows states to opt out of the expansion without losing all federal Medicaid funding. Only the federal money that would have gone toward the expansion is affected.

Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that he was joining "the growing chorus of governors who reject the PPACA power grab."

The Medicaid expansion "would simply enlarge a broken system that is already financially unsustainable," he wrote. "Expanding it as the PPACA provides would only exacerbate the failure of the current system, and would threaten even Texas with financial ruin."

About 1 in 4 Texans has no health insurance. And if Medicaid had been expanded as the federal law originally planned, more than 1.7 million people in the state were expected to get coverage.

Under the law, people with an annual income up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line would qualify for Medicaid.

Perry had telegraphed the move. "The cost of this bill to the states is going to be absolutely stunning," Perry said last week on CNBC's Squawk Box. "We don't believe it's right and we know it's going to basically bankrupt the states."

He was on the cable show when Florida Gov. Rick Scott co-hosting. Scott gave a thumbs down to Medicaid expansion and taking part in the insurance exchanges.

Like Florida, Texas also won't come up with its own insurance exchange.

And some states, including Maine, are now looking at whether they can use the Supreme Court's recent decision to roll back some required benefits.

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Scott Hensley edits stories about health, biomedical research and pharmaceuticals for NPR's Science desk. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has led the desk's reporting on the development of vaccines against the coronavirus.

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