The Perry Plan



Dave Mann

The governor is going all state’s rights on us again.

This afternoon, Rick Perry’s office released a letter the governor has sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. In the letter, Perry once again threatens to invoke the “state’s rights” protections in the 10th Amendment to resist any health care reform passed by Democrats in Washington. (Perry first hit on that rather seditious idea last week.)

Instead of Obama-care, Perry wants the feds to approve a free-market-based plan that Texas officials pitched about 18 months ago.

Under the Perry plan, Texas would divert Medicaid money to allow uninsured Texans to shop for, and buy, health coverage from private insurers.

So, let’s say I’m a poorly paid worker whose not covered by my employer and can’t afford health insurance on my own. (This is totally hypothetical. Honest.) Under Perry’s plan, I would receive taxpayer money (in the form of subsidies) to buy my own plan on the private market.

To institute this plan, Texas first needs permission from the feds — what’s known in policy circles as a Medicaid waiver.

Perry writes to Sebelius that his plan “presents a strategic alternative to continued reliance on government-run health care programs and our already overburdened safety net systems of care.”

I have just one question: Does Perry not realize that Medicaid is a “government-run health care program”? Or that using Medicaid money to fund his plan isn’t reducing our reliance on government-funded health care at all? 

(Here’s a pdf of Perry’s letter to Sebelius. And, for all the policy geeks out there, here’s a pdf of the original Texas proposal from December 2007.)

His plan would accomplish one thing, however: It would shift taxpayer money from Medicaid into insurance company coffers.

And maybe that’s the idea.

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Dave Mann is a former editor of the Observer.