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Bexar County Commissioners Putting Pressure On Capitol To Expand Medicare

Ryan Loyd | Texas Public Radio
TPR News
Bexar County Courthouse

Bexar County Commissioners adopted a resolution Tuesday supporting Medicaid expansion for Texas residents, but commissioners know they have some convincing to do in Austin.

Local leaders are sending a message to lawmakers -- and the governor.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff has been spending time in the state capital this year trying to convince lawmakers to stop referring to Medicaid expansion as "optional."

Wolff says expansion of Medicaid would shift much of the county’s health care funding to the federal government and bring $500 million to the local economy within three years.

"If Medicaid gets expanded -- and it goes the way we expect it to go -- we may have a great opportunity to actually lower taxes on health care here in Bexar County," Wolff said.

"I would say it's probably 10 times more expensive in an emergency room than a doctor's office," said George Hernandez, President of the University Health System.

Hernandez said almost half of the county’s 55,000 Care Link members would be eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

"We spend about $2,000 per member per year caring for those Care Link patients," Hernandez said. 

Commissioner Tommy Adkisson called on the state’s leadership to adopt the plan, saying if Texas refuses it, the federal money will be spent in another state that adopts the plan.

"Know that at the end (of the Legislative session), Mr. Governor, my former colleague, Rick Perry, in the final analysis that the eyes of Texas are upon you," Adkisson said.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.