Commentary: Texans’ tax dollars pay for health care — outside our state

Turning down a $10 billion investment in Texas in 2017 is high-grade nonsense. Doing it for the last five years is unconscionable.

That is serious money. It is a mistake with long-lasting consequences when you consider what we could have achieved had that money been invested in our state every one of those years, with continued investment for the years ahead. Think of the jobs that would have been created and the businesses that could have expanded. That infusion of dollars would have had a really big impact on the Texas economy. Every dollar spent on jobs and services generates more jobs and more business. People would have been lifted into well-paying jobs. Furthermore, that money was available virtually without cost to Texans.

Our state government says “no” to billions of dollars out of shear political stubbornness. That money is part of the Obama’s health care law. His name is connected to it, which is all the GOP needs as a reason to turn it down. That is indefensible. The expanded Medicaid money offered to Texans comes from federal taxes that we’ve already paid.

POLITICS: Key Texas lawmaker supports Medicaid policy change.

However, Govs. Rick Perry and Greg Abbott — along with Republican legislators — refuse to take our share back. Instead, the money is going to Oklahoma, Arizona, Ohio and other Republican states, where they recognize a good deal when it lands on their desk. Meanwhile, governors from Democratic states laugh all the way to the bank.

So, how do we take care of our working poor who do not have health insurance? GOP office holders raise your property taxes to make up for the $ 10 billion turned away every year. Did anybody ever explain to you a reason for raising taxes to pay for what your county calls “uncompensated care”? Why not use those available big bucks from the federal government? These are your property taxes. You have a right to know what kind of cockamamie reason justifies robbing you when Uncle Sam was — and still is — willing and able to pay.

In one decade, Texas Republicans will have dropped $ 100 billion or more down the drain for purely political reasons. This money would have gone to hospitals and doctors; to nurses and medics; to fund ambulance services and EMS rooms and specialists; employ pharmacists; provide wheelchairs and rehab to those who need it. It would have paid for vaccinations for babies and mammograms for women. It would have helped to keep our rural clinics and hospitals open, so more Texans would have access to health care.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: Viewpoints delivers the latest perspectives on current events.

It would have made Texas a better place to live. One in four people in America without health care insurance lives in Texas. Texas ranks 41st among the 50 states at providing health care for its residents when evaluated on standard health care measurements that include: people without health insurance, hospital re-admissions, premature deaths for lack of care; breast cancer deaths per 100,000 female population; colorectal cancer deaths per 100,000 population; and infant mortality deaths per 1,000 live births.

Texas’s miserable record on health care makes us a loser when companies consider relocating here. Companies like Amazon expect facilities and services that will enable their highly paid workers to stay healthy.

It’s still possible to get that federal aid money flowing into Texas jobs and economy — but we need a remake of the Texas Legislature — and a governor who puts the well-being of Texans first. That means we need Democrats in control of governance. State Sen. Charles Schwertner, chair of the committee in charge of health care, recently expressed his objection to expanded Medicaid insurance for Texans to the media. It was because recipients, he said, will use it too much.

Reaney is a retired St. John’s University professor who lives in Georgetown.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Opinion

Commentary: Why Congress must step up to the plate for Dreamers
Commentary: Why Congress must step up to the plate for Dreamers

It is now or never. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is the last line of defense. For recipients of DACA, other immigration routes to permanent residency or even the holy grail — U.S. citizenship — are next to impossible. Legally, even if after deportation they manage to apply for U.S. legal status, their “unlawful...
Herman: Male or female? You make the call.

Let’s play “Guess the Gender.” The rules are simple. I’ll tell you some facts. You’ll attempt to guess the gender of the person in question. This one should be easy. I’m guessing you’re going to guess male. Fact one: An Austin city employee, instead of doing the required research, inserted a bunch of made-up...
INSIGHT: New ‘zero tolerance’ immigration crackdown fills border courts
INSIGHT: New ‘zero tolerance’ immigration crackdown fills border courts

The crowded courtroom reeked of stale sweat, and 92 immigrants filled all five benches, leaving standing room only for visitors and court personnel. “It’s packed in there,” said one of a dozen guards and deputy marshals stationed at the courtroom last week. “This is what it’s going to be like from now on — no more...
INSIGHT: Why conservation is only half the battle for sea turtles
INSIGHT: Why conservation is only half the battle for sea turtles

On beaches from North Carolina to Texas and throughout the wider Caribbean, one of nature’s great seasonal events is underway. Adult female sea turtles are crawling out of the ocean, digging deep holes in the sand and laying eggs. After about 60 days, turtle hatchlings will emerge and head for the water’s edge, fending for themselves from...
Commentary: To fix property tax problem, start with appraisal boards
Commentary: To fix property tax problem, start with appraisal boards

Property taxes in Texas are a lot like dealing with a fresh wound. Every year, we vent our rage because our property tax bills go up. Lately, they go up a lot. We’re wounded yet again. But serious, fundamental change isn’t happening. Why? Because we’re underthinking the problem and rushing to find a Band-Aid for the wound. Caps on...
More Stories