By Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson
In addition to overwhelming victories that led to the Democratic Party regaining control of the House of Representatives, the November Election also led to the expansion of Medicaid in a number of states whose elected leadership had previously resisted the program designed to assist people whose financial positions did not allow them to receive adequate healthcare, if any. Now, these people have hope!
These voters showed their approval of the Affordable Care Act which was passed by a Democratic Congress and signed into law by President Obama In March of 2010. I was privileged to be among those who voted for its passage in the House of Representatives.
The voters in three traditionally Republican controlled states, Utah, Nebraska and Idaho, which were won by President Trump by a wide margin in the November 2016 General Election, voted to have Medicare coverage expanded in their states for those that were unable to purchase health insurance for themselves and their family. Twenty percent of all Americans are covered by Medicaid.
I am hopeful that in the coming months, Governor Greg Abbott and the political leadership of Texas will see the wisdom of Medicaid expansion. Texas is one of the remaining states that have not taken advantage of the federal option that would, if approved, cover nearly one million Texas who are uninsured.
The federal government pays ninety percent of the costs of Medicaid. It is an obstreperous argument to say that the program places an unnecessary financial burden on the states. Some simply do not favor it because it political leadership believes that its genesis came from the Obama presidency.
It was actually a Texan, former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who in 1965 realized that millions of poor people were dying because they did not have access to basic healthcare. It was an act of compassion, but it also was common sense legislation. The program became a very important part of the president’s ‘Great Society’ agenda.
The Medicaid mandate is on the move! Two states, Wisconsin and Kansas, elected Democratic governors on November 6th who campaigned on expanding Medicaid. Studies have found that Medicaid expansion has led to healthier people, and to their increased participation in civic activities.
Studies have also shown that the beneficiaries of Medicaid expansion become more involved in the political process as voters, something that is in the best interests of our Democracy and our citizenry.
This article originally appeared in the Dallas Post Tribune.