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Medicaid Negotiations Going Nowhere, HHS Chief Says

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Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Negotiations with the federal government to expand Medicaid in Texas are at a standstill, according to the head of the state’s health agency, because he’s waiting on the Legislature to give him direction.

“If I were to go up and say, ‘Oh what if we try this or try that,’ only to come back and find that that very day the Legislature had passed legislation saying, ‘You may not talk about that,’” Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek said at a TribLive event held by our political reporting partner the Texas Tribune, “it would be a waste of my time to start negotiating pieces.”

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year allowed states to opt not to expand Medicaid -- health insurance for the poor and disabled -- under President Obama’s signature health care law. Gov. Rick Perry says he doesn’t want to further expand what he calls a "broken" system.

A bill advancing in the Legislature would request Medicaid expansion dollars as a block grant from the feds. That money would be for helping subsidize private insurance exchanges for low-income Texans who don’t qualify for Medicaid.

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