I have three things to say about this.
When Harris County commissioners were asked this week by a member of the public to lower the property tax burden, Steve Radack had a response prepared: tell Austin to let millions of Medicaid dollars flow to the county – then the commissioners might be able to lower taxes.
The comment may come as a surprise from the Precinct 3 commissioner, one of the most outspoken conservatives on the court who has been a vocal critic of Harris Health System, the county’s health care system for the poor.
But his comment adds to the number of local voices that have challenged state Republican leaders to accept the federal money at a time when the county’s population and medical needs continue to grow. Radack said he will keep up the drumbeat.
“So, let’s go after the state,” he said at the meeting Tuesday. “Let them just simply accept the money, send it to us, we’ll cut taxes.”
Last year, Harris Health System officials estimated there were 70,000 uninsured patients in the county public hospital system who would have benefited from the Medicaid expansion, translating into about $70.3 million.
That money, said CEO George Masi, is instead picked up by the Harris County taxpayer when uninsured patients can’t pay their bills.
“That’s what’s so compelling about this,” Masi said. “This is 70.3 million, that would accrue immediately to Harris County.”
Masi said the number was similar each year since Texas opted against expanding Medicaid.
1. This is very good to hear. I have plenty of disagreements with Commissioner Radack and plenty of reasons why I’d like to see someone else in that office, but he’s 100% dead on right here, and he deserves to be applauded for it.
2. That said, how long has he felt this way? Judge Emmett has been a supporter of Medicaid expansion for a few years now. If Radack has felt this way all along, he’s kept it pretty close to the vest. Be loud and proud, Commissioner!
3. I hate to be the one to bring up uncomfortable topics here, but the only way we’re going to get Medicaid expansion in Texas is to elect more people who support it. There are some Republicans in the Legislature who support Medicaid expansion – off the top of my head, I don’t know of any from Harris County, though that may just be because they’ve also been quiet about it – but the majority of them do not, and our Governor and Lt. Governor are especially antagonistic to it. As long as that is the case, the status quo will remain firmly in place. The words are nice and necessary, but without action to accompany them, that’s all they are.