Texas, one of 27 states that opposed the federal health care act in court, actually won something from the Supreme Court’s decision (last month) upholding the legislation. The court sided with Texas in preserving a state’s right to refuse what would have been a forcible expansion of Medicaid to cover low-income people not already covered by the program.
By “Texas,” we mean Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott acting on Texans’ behalf whether Texans wanted them to or not. By Texans, we mean all legal residents, including the one in four with no health insurance.
The ruling ensures Texas’ right to deny Medicaid to Texans who need it and don’t have it. Think about this: Our state leadership can refuse federal funding that would cover all of the expense for the first few years and 90 percent thereafter.
Whose interest would this outcome serve? Certainly none of the uninsured.
Already, Texas is tardy to the task of setting up an insurance exchange to help individuals and small businesses obtain coverage. The federal government has allocated money to help with this task. Texas (again, in this usage we mean Perry and Abbott) thus far has concentrated on fighting rather than complying with the act.
What will Texas do now? Perry’s reaction to the ruling doesn’t sound compromising: “Now that the Supreme Court has abandoned us, we citizens must take action at every level of government and demand real reform, done with respect for our Constitution and our liberty.”
We can understand the anger. But respect for the Constitution works both ways. The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts who can be described fairly as Perry’s kind of guy when it comes to political philosophy, ruled the health care act constitutional. The ruling respected our liberty to refuse health insurance. It also respected Congress’ authority to put a monetary price on that liberty, by defining the price as a tax.
Having fought hard — and successfully — to defend Texans’ liberty, now the governor needs to focus on protecting Texans’ health, especially the 6.2 million who lack health insurance. For their sake, Texas needs to learn the new system and master it, especially if Texas wants to be in a position to change the system meaningfully in a way more palatable to the state’s leaders.
As Associated Press writer Ramit Plushnick-Masti established in an article ... Perry’s pattern of resisting the federal government leads to more, not less, federal oversight of Texas. In his resistance to federal authority, Perry often speaks of the intent of the framers of the Constitution, which suggests a reverence for American history.
If so, he should consider the historic example set by Comanche chief Quanah Parker.
No figure in American history fought harder, more bitterly or more bloodily for his and his people’s liberty.
But when the fighting was done, Parker studied the victors’ socioeconomic ways, adopted them and used them to the best advantage of himself and his people. He kept them fed and made sure they became landowners rather than government dependents.
In the final analysis, Parker actually won his war for liberty, though the rules of engagement changed considerably. Perry’s battle, likewise, needn’t be over. But for the sake of his people, the battlefield needs to change.