Gov. Perry's Medicaid decision leaves some caught in the middle

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on July 9, 2012 at 5:36 PM

IRVING -- Governor Rick Perry's decision to opt out of the expansion of Medicaid leaves a group of Texans in the middle; they make too much to qualify for Medicaid, and not enough to make buying health insurance mandatory.

Those people will continue to be uninsured. They will not face the so-called "penalty tax" for going without medical coverage.

However, many of them say they are the ones being penalized.

"It's everyday people who built this country," Tracy Brown said. "So if you don't take care of us, who's going to take care of the country?"

Brown is among the hundreds of thousands of Texans who would have been eligible for Medicaid if Governor Perry had agreed to accept the expansion.

Right now, she receives health care at the Irving Health Center, one of 12 Parkland clinics that keeps poor and uninsured patients out of the emergency room by providing primary care in the community. Last year, Parkland provided more than $600 million in uncompensated care at the hospital and community clinics.

At the Irving Center, each of the 28 exam rooms are full all day.

"I can't imagine us being more crowded," said Ginger Buschardt, a clinic nurse who said patients start showing up at 5 a.m., even though the clinic doesn't open until 7:30 a.m.

Nurses say more patients want to come, but there isn't enough money to provide more care.

A statement from the hospital system said, "If our state is going to turn away hundreds of millions in federal funds, we are eager to see what our leaders will propose to replace them."

Diane Boehle, whose granddaughter recently lost Medicaid coverage, wonders what she will do now.

"We'd just have to let the bills pile up," Boehle said. "That's all there is to it. There's no way we could pay for it, because we don't have the money."

"It should make anybody mad!" Tracey Brown said.

She, and many of the working poor at this health care clinic, believe Governor Perry has turned his back on them.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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