SAN ANTONIO — The state's health insurance marketplace rolled out last week, no thanks to the state of Texas.
But many Texans without health insurance — who might stand to benefit aside from these new insurance exchanges — will remain without coverage. All thanks to Texas; thanks for nothing.
The GOP-inspired congressional showdown that resulted in a shutdown over the Affordable Care Act has been garnering many of the headlines. Lost in the sound and fury, however, is a particular and appalling absence of action.
States under the Affordable Care Act were to have expanded their Medicaid programs to take care of many low-income uninsured adults. The same Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the ACA, made that expansion optional for the state, however. And, as usual, given the option of meaningfully expanding help for the state's working poor, Texas' has taken the low road that leads it to not providing the help.
This occurs despite a funding formula — 100 percent federal funding for three years and the state share capped at 10 percent thereafter — clearly beneficial to the state. And it occurs as recently released census figures show Texas continuing to be a national leader in poverty and the number of uninsured people.
Texas is No. 1 in the nation in this last category, while its poverty rate of 17.9 percent last year, though dipping slightly from 2011, is still higher than the nation's 15 percent and still higher than Texas' pre-recession rate of 16 percent.
Nearly 60 percent of families with children below poverty in Texas were headed by someone who worked. And the new data showed that nearly one third of working-age adults in Texas are without insurance. Texans continue to be less likely to get insurance through their employers.
A discerning person might see these figures as a clear indication of need — and a need to act. But not Gov. Rick Perry and the state Legislature. They've opted not to expand Medicaid to cover adults below 133 percent of poverty.
There was a telling graphic in the New York Times recently. It revealed that the 26 states not expanding Medicaid contain a disproportionate share of the nation's poorest uninsured residents. This inaction will result in 8 million Americans remaining without coverage, nearly 1.5 million of them in Texas.
And frankly, this is an even more egregious example of dysfunctional government than what has been occurring in Congress. Texas leads the pack.