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Perry, Interrupted, Meets With Medicaid Advocacy Group

Andrew Weber for KUT News

A Texas advocacy group took some less than subtle steps today to get a meeting with the governor.

Members from the healthcare advocacy group Texas Organizing Project interrupted Gov. Rick Perry multiple times during a speech at the Texas Global Business Summit this afternoon, repeating a call for Texas to accept federal Medicaid dollars.

“Here’s what I will do,” Gov. Perry said after being interrupted by an audience member. “I’m leaving here in 10 minutes, going back to the Capitol. If you leave here, I will invite you to the Governor’s office and we’ll have this debate face-to-face.”

Perry continued his speech after inviting the protestor, Houston contractor Reynaldo Gutierrez, to speak with him directly about health care for the state’s working poor.

Following the speech, Gutierrez said that as a business owner, he couldn’t afford to insure his employees.

"I think it’s not fair what the governor is doing,” he said. “A lot of people, six million Texans, they don’t have health coverage. And we need it.”  

While only three from Texas Organizing Project got an audience with the Governor, Perry emerged saying it was a good meeting.

“I don’t think we came to any great epiphanies in there, but we actually found there were a lot of things we agreed on,” Perry said.

One of the protestors who met him, Connie Paredes, said the group wanted him to accept federal money for Medicaid expansion.

“And he said that basically the money is not available,” Paredes said.

Texas is one of about two-dozen states planning to reject the expansion of Medicaid under the affordable care act. Perry says doing so would be to inject money into a broken system.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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