San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro: Let's Stop Denying Texans Health Insurance Because of Politics

Today, President Obama is visiting the Lone Star State to thank volunteers in Dallas for helping fellow Texans learn more about their new choices, new benefits, and new protections under the Affordable Care Act. I'm proud to lead that same kind of effort in San Antonio, and I know that mayors across our state are doing everything they can to educate our citizens about the law.  That's because we think giving as many people as possible the chance to buy affordable health insurance is more important than trying to score political points.

Usually, we do things bigger in Texas. But right now, when it comes to covering the uninsured, some of our neighboring states are trying to beat us to the draw. In Arkansas, for example, they¹ve cut the total number of uninsured in the state by nearly 14 percent in just over a month.

There's one big reason for that. Under the Affordable Care Act, states can choose whether or not to expand Medicaid to cover more of its citizens, and Arkansas chose "yes."  If we made that same choice in Texas, it would cover more than one million of our citizens, and save our taxpayers $1.7 billion over the next decade in unpaid hospital bills.

Conservative Republican governors in Michigan and Ohio looked at similar numbers in their states and decided that expanding Medicaid was a no-brainer. I just wish our governor saw it the same way. Because with a stroke of his pen, he could save more than one million of his fellow Texans from financial ruin if they get sick ­ and save taxpayer dollars in the process. And there's nothing foolish about that.

So mayors like me are going to keep working as hard as we can to make sure that Texans can get covered. In the meantime, states that have so far refused to expand Medicaid ought to reconsider and do the right thing. Let's stop denying millions of people health insurance just because of politics.  Let's follow the lead of states that have already insured tens of thousands of their citizens. And here in Texas, let's do it better than anybody else.

Julián Castro is the Mayor of San Antonio, Texas
Related Topics: Health Care, Arkansas, Michigan, Ohio, Texas
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