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What Medical Options Are Left For Texas’ Working Poor?

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio
TPR News

Now that every opportunity for Medicaid expansion is gone at the state capitol, the lawmaker who authored the GOP plan, which eventually failed, explained what medical options are left for the state’s working poor.

Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, is a doctor and has seen first hand the problems the 1.5 million Texans without health insurance face when it comes to seeking medical care.

Zerwas said part of that population will be picked up by the health exchanges, but for people making below the federal poverty level - for example, childless adults who make below the poverty line - there is no solution.

Zerwas said that last group will have to rely on nonprofit clinics for care, but due to a lack of communication or language-barriers they will likely be treated at an emergency room, driving up the cost of insurance for those living in the area. 

The state will still be able to negotiate with the federal government regarding Medicaid expansion.

"Doing that could require that the legislature come back in a special session to approve such a program because it has dramatic impact for the state of Texas. It has serious budgetary impacts that need to be taken into consideration," Zerwas said.

He said at this point the negotiating will be done by the head of the Texas Health and Human Services Department and Gov. Rick Perry.

Those negotiations will likely take place sometime later this summer if Texas opts-in for the Affordable Care Act, but if that doesn't happen, a Medicaid solution may not be reached until well into 2014.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.