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Protesters Get Unexpected Medicaid Meeting with Gov. Perry

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Health care protestors who interrupted Gov. Rick Perry during a speech yesterday afternoon were surprised that he offered to meet with them in exchange for letting him continue his talk.   

Gov. Perry has called Medicaid “broken” and a “fool’s errand.” Despite his adamant stance against expanding the entitlement program, at least 20 protesters with the Texas Organizing Project wanted to discuss it with him.

He agreed, but only if they chose three people for the conversation at the Capitol.

"They asked me what I could do and I asked them what they can do and the one thing I think we could really be working on together would be to collectively ask Washington for the flexibility to be able to allow a state like Texas to have a pilot program," he told reporters after the meeting.

Connie Paredes was one of the three. She is less optimistic, though she said he was “nice.”

"I pointed out that there's federal money that's been used for other items in the state of Texas that could've been allocated for health care for those hard working Texans that are uninsured, and he said basically that the money is not available," Paredes said.

So far this session, lawmakers have tried to pass legislation that addresses the roughly 1 million adults who don’t qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford private insurance.

None have passed. Under Texas law, the governor and the health commissioner do have the power to negotiate with Washington even if the Legislature does not approve it.

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