Incoming Texas governor's office reassures conservatives he doesn't want to give poor people health care

Contrary to earlier reports, Greg Abbott has no plans to expand Medicaid

Published January 12, 2015 4:05PM (EST)

  (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

Last week brought news of a potential Obamacare shocker: According to Texas insiders, Greg Abbott, the state's stridently conservative governor-elect, was open to participating in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. While one health executive told Talking Points Memo that expansion remained a "long-shot," Abbott was reportedly considering an alternative expansion plan along the lines of those pursued by conservative-leaning states like Utah, Arkansas, Indiana, and Tennessee. The Medicaid funds would pay for private health insurance, and those who signed up would be responsible for a small portion of their payments. These were hardly the makings of a progressive proposal, but even a watered-down alternative would nonetheless mark a dramatic shift away from current Gov. Rick Perry's obstinate rejection of expansion.

Well, it was fun while it lasted. In a statement to National Review Online, Abbott spokeswoman Amelia Chasse emphatically denied that the incoming governor, who takes office January 20, was considering anything of the sort.

“Fear not — Governor-elect Abbott has fought Obamacare and will continue to fight against it. He believes the ACA is not the best option for patients, doctors or taxpayers,” Chase said. “Greg Abbott believes that Texas should be able to address our unique health-care situation without federal interference, putting patients and doctors in charge of health-care decisions.”

Another Abbott insider told NRO that the Republican's position has been "grossly mischaracterized.” All Abbott had done, this source said, was ask for "more information" about Gov. Gary Herbert's "Healthy Utah" Medicaid expansion plan. The Utah plan had been broached in a conversation with legislators and Abbott sought out more information because he didn't know much about it, the source said. It's not like the new governor is some pinko who wants to expand health care access!

Of the four million people who lack insurance because of GOP governors' refusal to join Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, one million live in Texas.

(h/t TPM)

By Luke Brinker

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