This op-ed was originally featured in the Houston Chronicle.
Despite billions of federal dollars on the table, strong statewide public support and the ravages of COVID-19, Texas legislators have refused to expand Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program that covers Americans with limited incomes.
They’re not alone. Texas is one of 12 states that have said no to Medicaid expansion. By opting out, these states have left approximately 2.2 million people — predominantly people of color — without any pathway to basic, life-saving health care coverage. They don’t qualify for traditional Medicaid programs, which cover only a small number of parents and exclude those without dependent kids entirely (Texas’ rules are the most stringent), but also earn too little to receive marketplace insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
Millions of people with low income remain uninsured simply because of where they live. Meanwhile, evidence shows that state expansions of Medicaid have provided health insurance for millions and improved their health while boosting state economies.
But the reality remains that these states — including Texas — are unlikely to expand coverage without federal action.