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How Texans Are Missing Out On Millions Under The ACA -- And It's Not Medicaid Expansion

U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
The deadline is March 31 to sign up for coverage this year at Healthcare.gov.

Texas Matters: A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation details the government subsidies that are available to people signing up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. It seems that a lot of people in Texas are missing out. The mysterious death of 28-year-old Alfred Wright, who is African American, has caused racial issues to boil over in East Texas. Also on this show: Gender equality in the gubernatorial race.

Texans slow to sign up, slow to get subsidies

As the March 31 Affordable Care Act enrollment deadline approaches, President Barack Obama's administration is looking to make a last push to sign up those who are uninsured.

Enrollment numbers in Texas are crucial to the ACA's success and Texas has been underperforming. Roughly six million Texans are uninsured and sign ups have lagged behind other large states.

Officials say that’s due to the fact that state leaders have been actively working against the ACA.

A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that Texans are missing out on millions of dollars in federal subsidies that would support the health care industry.

Larry Levitt is with the Kaiser Family Foundation and author of the report: How much financial Assistance are people receiving under the affordable care act?

"There has been a lot of focus on the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court allowed states the option of deciding whether to expand Medicaid or not and that's been a controversial issue in the states and means that states not expanding are forgoing a lot of federal money. But the same is true of the private insurance subsidies as well...Everyone is eligible in every state no matter what the state decides, but some states have been more invested in this program than others and have done a lot more for people to enroll. In Texas the take-up rate -- or the number of people who are enrolling in these tax credits -- is a lot lower than in many other states and the U.S. average, which means there are fewer people qualifying and less money going to lower-middle income people in the state."

Racial tension and justice in East Texas

On November 7, 28-year-old Alfred Wright went missing and 18 days later his body was found in a wooded area of East Texas. The discovery was not by the proper authorities, but by his father and supporting friends who conducted their own search when the Sabine County Sheriff’s Department called off their efforts.

The mysterious death of Wright, who is African American, has hit a raw nerve in the Jasper, Texas, area. Many in the black community are convinced there was foul play, that Wright was murdered and the sheriff is involved in an elaborate cover-up. Others say there was no crime and that Wright died of a drug overdose.

There is an atmosphere of distrust, fear, pure hatred, generations of racial difficulties and a past of grotesque violence. And it’s all bubbling to the surface.

Patrick Michels is a reporter for the Texas Observer who wrote the article Fight for Wright, which looks at the death of Alfred Wright in East Texas.

"There are sort of two levels: There's details of what happened in Alfred Wright's case, and confusion and concern over how the cops have handled that, and then the general concern folks have in the black community about the way the white cops go about their business and progress over the last few decades."

Also on this episode of Texas Matters:

Gender equality in the gubernatorial race

Texas democratic candidate for governor Wendy Davis continues to score political points with the issue of pay discrimination based on sex.

Now Democrats in the Texas Senate have formally requested that the lieutenant governor’s office investigate pay discrimination for women in state agencies, including the attorney general’s office, which happens to be run by Davis’ opponent for governor, Greg Abbott.

Cal Jillson is one of the nation’s foremost political experts. He is a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University and is also the author of "Lone Star Tarnished."

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi