Texas banking on health care reform law repeal

March 28, 2012 4:35:17 PM PDT
After a third day of arguments on the health care reform law, all we can do it wait. On Wednesday, Supreme Court justices were asked to decide if parts of the law can stand if other parts are thrown out.

A decision is not expected from the court until late June but we are looking at what's already changing. In Texas, it turns out it's not as much as other places.

In partnership with the Texas Tribune, we investigate how much or how little Texas is doing to get ready for the health care reform.

Texas is slightly behind the curve getting ready for the implementation of the law in 2014. It is one of 26 states fighting this law in the US Supreme Court. Attorney General Greg Abbott's been up in DC all week. We have no funding plan in place nor a plan to pay for the massive Medicaid expansion. We're not doing a whole lot to prepare for health care exchanges, which is a way for you to get better cost health care.

And here's part of the reason why -- look at Gov. Rick Perry's tweet this morning: "Obamacare may limp out of the Supreme Court on life support. But the American people will vote it and Obama out of existence this fall."

Texans can buy electricity, register our cars and renew our drivers licenses online. We can buy car insurance, life insurance, homeowners insurance all online.

But in the last session when some Texas lawmakers tried to pass a law allowing Texans to buy health insurance online as a part of health care reform, it got caught up in the fight over Obamacare and the legislature bowed to Perry's veto threat.

"Are we right to wait for the Supreme Court to make its ruling?" we asked Perry.

Absolutely, because I don't think Obamacare is the right path. I think most Texans, frankly most Americans, believe that," he said.

Perry is banking on the Supreme Court to overturn the health care reform law or a new Republican president to repeal it. But dozens of other states are setting up so-called health care exchanges, where people who don't get insurance from their job or don't qualify for Medicaid, can comparison shop, decide what coverage they need most and then buy the best plan them in 2014 when we all have to be insured. And Texas has one of the nation's largest uninsured populations.

"Texas leads the nation in that number unfortunately and so 2014 is a big year for a lot of folks in Texas," US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.

Federal law says we have to have an exchange submitted for approval by January 2013, giving the state five months to do it if the Supreme Court upholds the law this summer.

The federal government will make an exchange available to Texans, but it's likely to be a one-size-fits-all solution to a Texas problem, something the governor rails against in many situations and means Texas will have to scramble.

"The idea that we passed a bill that size, that no one read and they admit they didn't read, and now we're finding out things about it and the cost associated with it that's horrendous. It costs Texans over the next 10 years -- if it goes into effect -- $27 billion over and above what they're spending now," Perry said.

The governor's office assures us there will be time and effort to get ready should the Supreme Court upholds the law.

Our partners are the Texas Tribune point out this is just one of the 18 cases where Texas is fighting the US government, and on their website, they list every one, the issues and what's at stake for all of us Texans.


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