States that expand their Medicaid programs under a provision in the Affordable Care Act will be forced to open their prison doors and allow violent criminals to roam the streets, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) claimed during a radio interview on Monday, insisting that the cost of providing health care to lower-income residents would reduce state funding for priorities like incarceration or education.
Appearing on 550 KTSA to promote an event touting Gov. Rick Perry’s (R-TX) opposition to the health care law, Cruz explained that expanding Medicaid would “put enormous financial pressures on the state” since the federal government’s share of financing coverage for Americans up to 133 percent of the poverty line starts at 100 percent in 2014, but then “goes down and down and down”:
CRUZ: And it will become a bigger and bigger part of the state budget and so if Texas did as some other states are doing and signed on to the expansion of Medicaid, what we would see is Medicaid growing even faster than it is now as a percentage of the state budget and crowding out every other priority. So if you think it’s important for the state to continue spending on public education, you should be glad that the state is not signing on to Medicaid expansion. If you want state funds to provide for our prisons and law enforcement to incarcerate violent criminals and keep them off the streets you should be glad we’re not signing up for this Medicaid expansion because every state that does so is going to be regretting it mightily because the pressure is going to crowd out just about every other priority in the budget.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government fully funds Medicaid expansion until 2016 and gradually reduces its contribution to 90 percent in 2020 and subsequent years. Texas would never pay more than 10 percent of the cost of expansion, while extending coverage to more than 1.5 million uninsured Texans and saving millions in costs to taxpayers of caring for the uninsured.
For instance, a recent analysis from the Perryman Group found that Medicaid expansion could provide substantial economic stimulus — the state would contribute “$15.6 billion over a 10-year period, while receiving $20.0 billion in revenue” from increased economic activity and productivity. The report found that for “every dollar spent by the State for additional Medicaid coverage, total spending in the economy would go up by $43.50, output (real gross product) would rise by $21.72, personal income would grow by $14.34, and retail sales would expand by $6.13.”
Eight Republican governors have endorsed Medicaid expansion.